Police keeping gangsters out of schools, colleges

CONFISCATED WEAPONS: (from left) Zulkifli, Law and Ahmad Asri showing some of the dangerous weapons seized from those arrested during Ops Cantas Khas in the state.

KUCHING: The police are monitoring schools and institutions of higher learning in the state to prevent criminal gangs from infiltrating them and influencing the students.

State deputy police commissioner Dato Law Hong Soon said a police liaison officer whose role, among other things, was to make sure gangster groups do not attempt to recruit students had been assigned to every school and college.

“So far, I am glad to note that we have not received any report of gangsters infiltrating schools here to try to recruit students into joining their group,” said Law during a press conference held at state police headquarters here yesterday.

He went on to say that the police were keeping a close eye on the 16 gangster groups in the state who were among the 49 nationwide recently listed as illegal organisations by the Home Ministry.

“We know who and where they are. Since they have been declared illegal, any person associated with any of these 16 gangs will be detained under Ops Cantas Khas,” he added.

He pointed out that criminal gangs in the state were dissimilar in a number of ways to triads in Peninsular Malaysia, and could be considered merely groups of loosely-organised thugs localised to certain areas in urban centres like Kuching, Miri, Sibu and Bintulu.

“Most of these groups are small, numbering no more than 15 persons, while the larger ones will have between 20 to 25 members.

“They are just interested in making money mainly through smuggling and illegal gambling, and are not registered as organisations under the Registar of Societies,” said Law who conceded that certain thugs do maintain some form of affiliation with Peninular Malaysia triads, particularly the Hua Kee and Ang Beng Hui groups.

The deputy police commissioner disclosed that police have so far nabbed 159 persons across the state for various offences since the nationwide-launch of Ops Cantas Khas on Aug 20, seizing weapons such as samurai swords, machetes, kwang tao swords and daggers in the process.

Additionally, a total of 6,635 persons have been checked during that period along with 4,850 vehicles, which resulted in 518 summonses issued for traffic-related violations.

Law explained that police here considered Ops Cantas Khas to be a ‘second phase’ of Ops Cantas Kenyalang launched in 2007 to wipe out gangsterism in the state.

“In 2007, 83 gangsters were arrested during Ops Cantas Kenyalang and were either placed in detention centres or banished.

“They have since been released unconditionally either because they have been rehabilitated or because of the expiry of their detention period,” he said.

Despite being released, the police still monitor them closely and have found that those rehabilitated have turned over a new leaf and are now operating legal businesses.

At the same time, Law said some of the ex-detainees from Ops Cantas Kenyalang have returned to their old ways, including the heads of the 16 thug groups in the Home Ministry’s list.

He assured that the police would continue to go after these groups by raiding their turf and doing checks on entertainment outlets or other premises known to be frequented by their members.

Present with Law during the press conference were state CID chief Dato Zulkifli Hassan and state Anti-Vice, Gambling and Gangsterism unit (D7) officer-in-charge DSP Ahmad Asri Jamaludin.

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