KUALA LUMPUR: There seems to be more than meets the eye to the clashes in Selayang between local Indians and the Myanmar nationals.
Former NGO man turned politician S Gobi Krishnan, who has been a Selayang native for more than 30 years, claimed the reason behind the clashes was the turf war for drug distribution between local gangs and foreigners, particularly the Rohingya community.
“It’s an open secret here – almost every Selayang native knows this fact, although media outlets and the police have failed to highlight it.
“The January 13 shootout wasn’t a random incident caused by a clash between the two communities. It’s just two gangs fighting to gain the upper hand in the lucrative drug trade,” he told FMT Thursday.
Gobi, who was a former adviser to anti-crime watchdog MyWatch, said the tiff between the two groups started when the Rohingyas, who had been running drugs for the local Indians, got “ambitious” and went straight to the supplier to get their stash late last year.
“This resulted in the middlemen (local gang) losing their rice bowl, which culminated in the clashes,” he claimed.
He alleged that some of the Rohingya ran syndicates providing fake passports, fake MyKads, and fake UNHCR (United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees) cards to their own people, with the help of locals.
Gobi said, however, that apart from a handful of them, the Rohingyas were otherwise a peaceful community.
“Never once in the last 20 plus years have I seen them (Rohingyas) create problems in the area. They keep to themselves and slog day and night at the market to survive.
“There is no basis for the locals to claim that the foreigners are depriving them of jobs, as I don’t think the locals would do the jobs they (Rohingyas) do at the market,” he said, adding that there were also people from the community who have settled here for years and were doing very well, running businesses that catered to the needs of their community.
Gobi, who is now secretary-general of the NewGen Party, said that the shooting incident and the ensuing clashes should not be misconstrued as problems between the two communities.
“I’m not taking either side but just want to clarify that it was a tussle between two gangs. The police did a good job in rounding up the suspects when the case first broke, but they should have clarified the reason behind the clashes, to stop people from speculating.”
Gobi said it was about time the government started taking in refugees, especially the Rohingyas, and not leave them to fend for themselves.
“Work with the UNHCR and give them a means to live. It is only when they are pushed into a corner that some resort to crime. Set up a database with their details, so it is easier to track them in case something goes wrong.
“I believe tracking them down is easy as the majority of these refugees don’t move around much, they stay close to their own people,” he said.
On Wednesday last week, five men in two cars opened fire at random in the Selayang wholesale market, hitting one Myanmar man and a toddler.
Police have so far picked up 119 people, most of them Myanmar nationals, to prevent further violence in the area.