RAWANG, MALAYSIA - Students at a co-ed secondary school in Rawang, Selangor, dread going to school every day knowing what awaits them when they step into the compound. Groups of boys randomly pounce on their schoolmates almost every day, demanding protection money ranging from RM8 to RM36.
Those who refuse to pay are assaulted or mocked until they pay up. Violent attacks, rapes and drunken binges by schoolboys spewing four-letter words are all common in this school.
And it's not just fellow students who are afraid. Residents outside the school are equally afraid of these schoolboy gang members.
The Starprobe team went undercover to talk to students, former students, parents, teachers and residents, revealing a sorry story of triad activities, drug distribution, alcoholism, vandalism and sexual crimes.
School gangs make it hell for all
RAWANG, MALAYSIA - They are not just ordinary backyard school bullies - at just 14 and 16, they are already hardcore gangsters and now, sadistic rapists. They strike terror among their schoolmates and even the teachers, and residents in the two neighbourhoods near the school live in fear of them.
Afraid of what these teenagers could do to them, teachers, parents and residents have instead opted to keep quiet. Cases of molest are said to be rampant, but almost all of these cases went unreported as the victims feared more severe "repercussions". However, the matter came to light after a police report was lodged over the rape of a Form 2 girl by her schoolmates at their school premises.
The news shocked the nation, and Malaysians want to know how the student could have been attacked in her school where she is supposed to be safe. Several students, overcome by the plight of the rape victim, broke the news to the caretaker of an orphanage. The 14-year-old girl had been repeatedly raped by several of her classmates in various locations of the school over a three-week period.
A medical examination carried out revealed that a 4cm-long pencil had been lodged in her private parts. The Starprobe team spent almost four weeks to unearth the truth - such was the extent of fear that gripped the community. More than 20 people were interviewed, including students, residents, parents and teachers.
The team investigating the goings-on in the school was told that the girl had also been tortured by the same group of boys. They were detained by police but have since been released on police bail. A friend of the victim claimed that a bottle of minyak cap kapak (medicated oil) was emptied into the victim's private parts. "The boys also stuffed ice cubes in," she claimed.
That the girls were fearful to even talk to the Starprobe team was evident - they spoke only after shutting the doors and windows, pulling the curtains and turning up the TV volume. They were uneasy with the questions asked, but eventually revealed that there were three "triads" - known as 08, 21 and 36 - operating within and outside the school grounds. Randy (not his real name), a former triad member, said extorting from schoolmates was an everyday occurrence. What is interesting was how the amount extorted came about.
"If the triad number is 08, the amount extorted is RM8," he said, adding that those who refused to pay would be beaten up. He also claimed that some gang members distributed drugs like ganja, ketamine and Eramin 5 in school. "The drugs are sourced from gangsters on the outside," he said. A Form Four student said she saw a Form Three girl being molested by eight boys in two incidents in the girls' toilet and in an empty classroom in March.
"I am shocked that they can do this without any fear or remorse," she added. A resident, Sarimah (not her real name), said her family were constantly troubled by the bullies, who used a short-cut near her home to go to school. "My daughters are afraid even to go out and play whenever they are around," said the mother of three. She said the boys had even vandalised her husband's car and thrown stones into her house. "They also use vulgar words liberally," she added.
When Sarimah reported the matter to the school, she said a teacher told her to move elsewhere if she could not take the torment. A caretaker of a Muslim cemetery beside the school said the bullies would get intoxicated on alcohol and drugs, and dance at the cemetery to taunt him. "During one of their drinking sessions, they pelted me with stones when I questioned them. They told me to mind my own business and threatened to assault me," he said, adding that he gave photographs of the students to the school management but no action had been taken.
Checks showed that graffiti depicted the gangs' triad numbers on the walls of the school. The bullies also damaged vehicles parked in the school grounds, smashing windscreens and vandalising cars belonging to teachers. "Happy hour" sessions are on every Friday afternoon next to the cemetery.