Child activist: Students joining gangs in school for RM30

James-Nayagam-gangster-1PETALING JAYA: Students in some of the schools in Kuala Lumpur and Petaling Jaya can join gangs for as low as RM30, according to child rights activist James Nayagam.

Speaking to FMT, Nayagam said Form 1 students were often approached by seniors who were already members of a particular gang.

“They will look for lonely, timid students from some of the lower-performing classes and offer them protection.

“The catch is that they have to belong to that particular gang in order to be protected and membership costs RM30.”

He said part of the responsibility of being in a gang was that if there was any gang fight, either inside or outside the school, the members had to participate.

He added that when it came to joining the gangs, the students did not have much choice in the matter.

“If you do not pay for the membership and join the gang, then you are taken to a corner of a field and beaten up.”

He said from Form 1 to Form 5, the gangsters start moving up in rank. Each gang had its own sign language to distinguish gang members.

“In Form 1, you are approached to join the gang and then as you move up to Form 2, 3 and 4, you also move up in rank. In Form 5, you have links with outside gangs.

“I was once with the Petaling Jaya police dealing with a case where a tow-truck driver had come to bail out some of the boys from the lock-up.”

Nayagam said solutions to this problem were few as those who joined the gangs and wanted to leave had to pay a fine of RM2,000.

“Even the teachers are afraid of these gangs. Moving the student to a different school won’t help matters as often there will be members from the same gang waiting in the other schools for him.”

Nayagam, who is also a former Malaysian Human Rights Commission (Suhakam) commissioner, said that what seemed to help was police presence as well as dialogues about human rights in the school.

“I learned from other countries that the presence of a police patrol car helps a lot.

“While I was working in Suhakam, I found that when you conduct human rights sessions with the schools and it goes on record, the rate of bullying drops by 30%.”

He said he learned some significant things about the students who joined gangs.

“They are all poor performers in schools and they are in the lower-performing classes because most of the time teachers don’t pay attention to such classes.

“They play truant often and most of them are slow learners and are timid in the family.”