By LIM SUE GOAN
Translated by SOONG PHUI JEE
Sin Chew Daily
Many Hong Kong films have glorified secret societies, making the leading man a righteous hero who is intended to turn over a new leaf but hunted by other gang members and thus, forced to resort to violence. Such films advocate violence aesthetics, causing those with immature mentality to adore gangs. However, some scenes still left a deep impression.
For instance, these films tell us that gangs can never be completely eliminated. Regardless of who the head is, all the police wants is law and order. Once the gangs disturb the people and the rule of law, the police will take actions to suppress them.
Similar situation takes place in Malaysia. Mutual revenge taking, fighting for "territory" and daily shootings have caused panic in the society. They have crossed the bottom line and thus, the government can no longer tolerate it. The police launched the Ops Cantas Khas was launched and the Home Ministry named 49 unlawful societies.
Some 40,313 people have been identified as members of the 49 secret societies, including Geng 04, Geng 08, Double 7, Geng 30, Geng 38, Geng 24, Geng 18, Geng 36, Geng 21, Wah Kee, Ang Soon Thong, Geng Satu Hati, Tiga Line, and Hai San. Some of them are well established but they had never been so arrogant as they are today. It might because of the change of leadership or some have collaborated with foreign criminal organisations.
Over the years, the authorities have cracked down a surging number of drug trafficking activities, including raiding large drug refineries. The police has also nabbed a huge number of prostitutes of various nationalities, showing that human trafficking activities are rampant, too. Public security will keep worsening if these criminal activities are not curbed.
Of course, revenge fights among secret societies might due to the breakdown of the balance of power. For instance, a released former prisoner might kill the head of his gang to fight for territory.
If the forces of secret societies are expanded, it would invade government agencies. Just like how the Italian official organisations are controlled by the mafias through habitual intimidation, bribery and murder. Anti-Mafia magistrate Paolo Borsellino and prosecuting magistrate Giovanni Falcone were killed in 1992.
Activities related to violence, pornography and drugs are their sources of income. The growth of underground economy will erode the legitimate economy. After the expansion of underground organisations, they would equip themselves with firearms to consolidate power.
Therefore, declaring war against secret societies could reduce crimes and maintain social peace while defending the government's authoritativeness and status. However, could the police's anti-crime actions eradicate the 49 secret societies? Could severe laws make young people withdraw from secret societies?
Since secret societies are active in the dark, banning them would just make them temporarily disappear but once the police becomes less vigilant, I believe that they will return.
Moreover, secret societies nowadays are good at "self-bleaching", including founding organisations to legitimise their activities and covering themselves with legitimate businesses.
As the power of the bright side is not strong enough, it left room for the secret societies to grow. The failure of school and family education has given secret societies an opportunity to lure young people to join them. Dropouts, unemployment and poverty issues are also the factors. For example, the total number of 28,926 Indian gang members has reflected the seriousness of the community's marginalisation problem. If no action is taken to lead young Indians back to the right track, secret societies will never have to worry about lacking in new members.
In addition, some law enforcement officials lack the working value of integrity. If there is no fraud issue, there would not be such a huge loophole in border security and firearms trafficking activities would not be so rampant either.
Therefore, the dark forces could be weakened only if the bright forces are strengthened. If everyone is willing to cooperate with the police in fighting crimes, good will always prevail evil.