The crime of marginalisation 

Crime of violence with a penchant for brute force like racketeering, kidnapping, murder, extortion, drug/human trafficking, tend to be the workings of those whom have the least to lose, those on the lower rungs of society.

Nicholas Chan, 

A WEEK or so ago, it was like Christmas for the concerned citizens and crime enthusiasts of Malaysia. 
The Home Ministry officially released a list of 49 groups alleged operating as criminal gangs and announced the banning of their existence under the Section 5(1) of Societies Act 1966. 
Such a public disclosure of not just the name of the gangs, but their zone of activities, demographics and even the numbers of members they have is unprecedented for Malaysia. 
Ops Cantas swiftly followed as a major clampdown exercise, and as of Sept 7, it has already nabbed 4,806 suspects for involvement in criminal activities.
Historically, the only similar approach of formally banning criminal organisations was in 1890, when the Straits government of British declared all Chinese secret societies to be illegal with the Societies Ordinance and give them six months to wind up their enterprise. 
In hind sight, it is déjà vu, as it appeared that our police force only sprung to action after a spate of gang-related murders rocked the nation. The British too, only recognised the threat these secret societies posed after the massive Penang Riots in 1867 and their deep involvement in the Larut Wars.  
However, such high-handed approach only resulted in a short period of outward calm and was said to have a more malignant effect of driving the society members underground, turning them from Chinese communal bodies into violent criminal gangs .
Unlike many, I do not look at this public shaming of criminal gangs with awe and wonder. Instead, the statistics is highly worrying and I sense another historical déjà vu. 
Among the 40,313 individuals suspected of involvement in gang activities (as provided by the Home Ministry), 28,926, or 70% of them are of Indian origins. Gang 36, Gang 04 and Gang 08 were named as the most notorious of all the criminal gangs and they are majorly dominated by the Indians, although Gang 36 was said to be backed by Chinese funders. 
It would appeared that gone were the days of Chinese domination of the underworld, when the most revered of gangs has a Chinese rhyme to their names, like the Sio Sam Ong of Penang and Long Fu Tong of Kuala Lumpur.
Outlanders in their own country?
To understand this déjà vu, one would have to go back to the origins of the secret societies in Malaysia, tapping into the sentiments of Chinese immigrants that arrived in Penang as labours, or coolies since the 1800s. 
Secret societies arise because these people had no protection or anyone to represent their interests under the British rule which has hardly any officer that speaks Mandarin or any other Chinese dialects. 
The secret societies, which unite the Chinese immigrants mostly by their provincial origins or dialects, came into existence to provide mutual aid and protection to their own kind in a foreign and potentially hostile land. 
The secret societies or the kongsis (which means “company” in Mandarin) is a creation of necessity and circumstances rather than convenience for those that are politically and socio-economically disadvantaged and marginalised. They are more than just criminal organisations; they are the governing, economic and welfare entity for the fast-growing Chinese immigrant community.
In the present day, as the Chinese slowly gained solid social and economic footing and moved away from the life of crime, it would appear that the Indian community has taken up the mantle. And they do it in disproportionately large numbers despite being the smallest among the three major ethnic groups of Malaysia. 
Stories have it they are succeeding the originally Chinese gangs as the Chinese could no longer get recruits for their ground level operations. These organisations are fast-growing and fearless (to the extent of spray painting their symbols on the wall of a police station as a declaration of war), not unlike the brazen Chinese secret societies during the British days.
If it is indeed déjà vu, then it would be a sad and worrying trend. 
This implies that a substantial portion of the Indian community, like the Chinese immigrants in the 19th century, felt like they are staying in a foreign land, with little glimmer of hope for protection and success unless they stick to each other. 

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