Friday, June 4, 2010

Botak Chin - Part 2

Although his gang was very successful, there were some gangsters who disputed Botak Chin's leadership. This led to confrontations with rival fractions and gangs. To consolidate his power as the supremo gangster in Kuala Lumpur, Botak Chin became involved in gang wars. In one major war, both his rival, Tua Pui Lek (the head of the Five Finger Mountain gang) and Botak Chin's own right hand man, Ah Wong, were killed at a disused tin mine in Jinjang.

Owing to the growing terror in Kuala Lumpur, the police also stepped up their war against Botak Chin. This gained some success where one of his trusted lieutenants Seh Chai killing himself when he was surrounded by the police in Jalan Alor.

Early 1976, Botak Chin started recruiting new members into his gang. This followed with 3 robberies where the gang fled with RM400,000. Despite the successful robberies, 7 of his men were shot dead and a few others were caught. The police confiscated 15 firearms, ammunition and hand granades.

Finally, on February 16 1976 night, he and his gang members was captured by the police in after a shoot out at the Eng Leong sawmill in Jalan Ipoh. Botak Chin miraculously survived despite being seriously injured with 6 gun wounds.

According to the news report by the New Starits Times at that time, Botak Chin implied that he was set up by his own men, one Pang Kok Chye and an Ah Keong.

Botak Chin told the High Court that on that day, he was at the Tiong Nam settlement between 7pm and 8pm when Pang Kok Chye and Ah Keong came to see him. They told him that 2 other people needed help and wanted to meet with him. Botak Chin then follow them by car to the Jalan Ipoh sawmill to meet the 2 people.

Inside the sawmill he sat on a chair for 15 minutes before asking Pang Kok Chye and Ah Keong where were the 2 people they came to meet. He then said he proceeded to make a telephone call. After the call, as he was replacing the receiver, shooting started outside. He then felt pain all over his body. He became weak and giddy then fell to the floor. Only then he realised that he had been shot.

Botak Chin claimed that during the shooting, Pang Kok Chye and an Ah Keong ran to the back of the mill. Then, when the shooting stopped, something was thrown into building filling the room with smoke. He found it difficult to breathe and became unconscious. When he regained consciousness, he found himself in hospital. Botak Chin also denied being involved in robberies and said that his name was used by others who committed the robberies.

However, a senior police officer testified in court that Botak Chin was conscious during his arrest. Botak Chin allegedly told police officers who arrested him that if he wasn't injured in his arms he would have shot and killed many of them. Botak Chin apparently said, "Kalau saya punya due tangan tidak jem, saya sudah tembak. Lu nasib baik."

Upon Botak Chin's capture, many rumours began circulating about his alleged invincibility. Some people believed that the reason the police was able to wound and apprehend Botak Chin was because, on that day, he left home without wearing his tangkal. Another version is that the police went to Thailand and obtained the assistance Botak Chin's bomoh siam to defeat him.

According to newspaper reports, at the time of capture, Botak Chin with him a green cloth with Siamese writing and a plastic green purse containing a note book. He also wore 3 tangkal - one tangkal round his neck and 2 other tangkal round his waist.

Apparently Botak Chin protested when the police wanted to remove the tangkal, saying "Ini saya punya tokong". Botak Chin also wore a Rolex watch, a gold chain with 2 pendants and a jade gold ring. Police also found in his wallet some money (RM231, HK10, 50 pieces of Japanese "banana" notes and some baht) and photograph of 2 women.

On May 12 1980, 27 year old Botak Chin, facing 3 charges under the Internal Security Act at the Kuala Lumpur High Court, denied having possession of firearms or ammunition under his possession or control. He denied that even the 2 pouches of bullets found in his trouser pockets during the saw mill incident were his. He claimed he did not know how they came to be in his pockets, reported the New Straits Times.

He was sentenced to death by the High Court in 1980. The next year, on Jan 1, 1981, while on death row, he made an unsuccessful attempt to escape from his cell in Pudu prison, stabbing prison wardens but was seriously injured himself. On June 11, 1981, at 3am, Botak Chin was hanged.

Dr Mahadevan, the former director of Tanjung Rambutan Mental Hospital in Perak, who treated Botak Chin for 19 days to determine if he was sane enough to stand trial, found Botak Chin to be highly intelligent - but a "misguided genius".

At the mental hospital Botak Chin told Dr. Mahadevan that since he was a young boy he always wanted to help the poor and down-trodden. He wanted to protect them from corrupt officials and gangsters who extorted money from the poor and weak. Botak Chin revealed that he was once brutally attacked by gangsters who entered his vegetable stall at the market and tried to extort money from him, failing which, they beat him until his collar bone was fractured.

This incident changed his life. Botak Chin then started to learn martial arts and joined a gang for protection. He also encouraged people to join his secret society so that they wont be harmed and exploited. Members of his secret society had to swear not to take advantage of the poor, cut their hair short and not take dadah.

He further told Dr. Mahadevan that in his kampung people regarded him as Robin Hood because he robbed from the rich and gave a considerable amount of the spoils to the poor. Apparently, part of the loot went to his gang and part of it went to the family of those members who were killed or caught by the police.

This possibly explains why he managed, time and time again, to hide and gain refuge in the squatter settlements when pursued by the police - with the goodwill he had with the poor, the community were helping him escape. He was their hero.

Botak Chin was no ordinary gangster. His secret society was guided by his philosophy and governed by strict principles and guidelines. These had to complied with by everyone, including himself. To enforce discipline among his troops and keep order in the gang, he had executed henchmen who had breached the rules. He was not a killer, he was their taikor and he was just doing his job, he told Dr. Mahadevan.

Having built a reputation of reverence among society as Robin Hood, people, especially the lower classes, treated him as such. During his stay at the hospital, patients offered to wash his clothes and perform chores for him.

Although Botak Chin never married, he had plenty of female admirers. Dr Mahadevan said he would get calls from women inquiring about Botak Chin when he was at the hospital.

Dr Mahadevan said that Botak Chin was rushed back to Kuala Lumpur when a bullet was found in his high security hospital cell because it appeared that his men were coming to help him escape.

During his final days, he sought solace in various religions. While it was his dying wish was to donate his organs for medical purposes, this request was rejected as he had not signed a written consent.

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