After trillions spent on ten Malaysia Plans spanning over 50 years, the problem of ‘Indian gangsterism’ in society still persists. And it is getting worse, thanks to the Barisan Nasional government, says Choo Sing Chye.
The other day, at a dinner, I met a former PPP supporter who upon recognising me, came over to my table for a chat.
But before saying anything, he quickly declared that he had switched parties, from PPP to a full-fledged MIC member.
I asked him, “What’s the difference?”
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He did not answer, but switched subject to talk about the good old days. Then suddenly at one conjecture he asked me whether I had admitted any Indian gangsters during my watch as Perak DAP Organising Secretary.
“No!” I replied.
“Hey, don’t ‘ali-utart’ (bluff) me lah, just admit it bro,” he reacted.
I looked at him and responded, “I never come across any Indians who had filled the little dotted line under “Occupation” with the word “Gangster”, when joining DAP.
“So, to you when you see an Indian beating another, you call him a gangster and when a rich man or top politician’s son bashing another, you just say, boys will be boys, right?” I retorted. “Is this the way MIC solves the Indian problem?”
This is a true story that happened a very long time ago.
Looking back at my childhood days, I remember when we were a group of eight- to nine-years-old, a healthy mix of Malays, Indians and I, would congregate at a small patch of land near the mortuary playing football until sunset. I tell you, it was unadulterated fun back then, which I do not see much these days.
When we were tired from all the playing, we would sit down to rest and it was always at this moment in time that a 18-year-old boy by the name of Arikiam would suddenly appear and sit beside us uninvited.
Sensing that our eyes were fixed on him, he would suddenly leap up and kick off his story-telling in the most animated way he could, just to make an impression on us.
Once he rode an elephant to the Hospital Quarters where we lived. As children we were stunned to see him riding on the huge animal and immediately followed him wherever he went.
Once in a while, we would work up a little courage and sneak a pat or two on the elephant’s leg. Later, we found out he was working for the Brazilian Circus which was in Ipoh at that time.
Until today, I still do not know how he managed to ride the elephant out of the circus, taking a huge risk just to impress us, kids.
Did he make an impression on us? Yes, he did, back then.
Today, we have forgotten him and his stories about how he allegedly fought with the police and his rivals whom he called bad guys. But his imitation of John Wayne’s walk still lingers in my mind.
Many years had passed since I saw him, but one fine day while waiting on my motorbike at a junction for the traffic lights to turn green, I noticed a man behaving rather strangely. Then, he started to walk towards me and I thought he wanted to cross the road.
As he neared me, he stretched out his hands and gave me a brotherly hug; in an instant I recognised him – he was none other than the boy who had entertained us with his exploits all through the years when we were growing up.
We went to the side of the road and had a long chat. As time flew by, I said to him that I had to go; suddenly, I could see his eyes starting to mist. He knew that this would be the last goodbye and we would never meet again.
He walked away without the usual John Wayne walk that he used to do when we were around.
On that day, I felt that the hug was just his way of saying thank you for listening to his stories and also getting the respect that no other had given him when he was young.
Many years after that meeting, I heard from my friend that he had died, apparently from all the injuries he had sustained through the years.
Sad as it is, he died a nobody. I never judged him as a gangster, but a young boy yearning to be heard and his cry for help was interwoven into his stories. He was just a lost soul, lost in a society that instead of holding out its hand to help him just cordoned him off into the abyss of misery and hopelessness, a very long time ago.
The police cannot do much about ‘Indian gangsterism’ because they are dealing with the end-stage of our societal disease caused by greedy and uncaring politicians from the Barisan Nasional.
The recent call by Lim Kit Siang for a “high-powered” commission of inquiry to address the issue of gangsterism involving Indian Malaysian youths is timely. According to him, the commission should involve all sectors of Malaysian society to highlight the causes and solutions to the problem.
Yes, very true indeed; let this be the start of a new era to end the anguish and the pain of the poor Indian Malaysian and to welcome them back into the fold of mainstream society.
After trillions spent on ten Malaysia Plans spanning over 50 years, the problem of ‘Indian gangsterism’ in society still persists. And it is getting worse, thanks to the Barisan Nasional government.
Choo Sing Chye served as politcal secretary to the late P Patto and is a former state assembly member.