Exclusive: Poverty driving them to gangsterism

The gangsters get caught for their crimes, but most of them are back in action in no time at all as they usually bailed out.

Malaysian gangsters are going to ground. Many are even trying to flee to neighbouring countries to escape the long arm of the law. What drives people to gangsterism and what do they gain by it? The Star talks to some former gangsters to find out why gangsterism is so favoured, especially by the Indians.

PETALING JAYA, Malaysia - In the middle of a dense bush is a small shrine. Beside it, the taiko (chief) stands with his top lieutenants.

The 40-odd inductees, some 30m away, approach him, go down on their knees and bow before him in reverence.

One of the lieutenants comes forward, grabs their hands, pricks their fingers and catches the blood in a cup. Then, he mixes brandy in the cup that's a quarter-full of blood. All the inductees then drink from the cup.

That was how Ramu (not his real name) became a Gang 18 member. He was 17.