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The Story of a Malaysian People

Paper Type: Free Essay Subject: English Literature
Wordcount: 5467 words Published: 1st Jan 2015

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As I sat on my bed leaning against a bare wall right across the room looking at how the steady beads of raindrops sluiced down my window-pane on a gloomy rainy morning, I let my mind wander off to visualize the chilly morning of 11 June 1981, right as the clock ticked 3.00 a.m. [1] – the moment the gear was pulled, the platform beneath his feet opened, the rope around his neck slicing into his delicate skin and within nanoseconds the tension intensified and in a split second his life ended, Botak Chin – hanged, dead, and gone.

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Oh how the woman of Malaysia must have teared and cried, as how sheets of rain started folding in causing my ear to be swelled with the sound of rain pelting against my window. But let’s not forget the feeling of immense sorrow, agony and distress that filled the hearts of all the beneficiaries of Botak Chin as the subject lived to ‘rob the rich for the poor’, [2] at least providing the poor and suppressed society a better chance to live. And for those who were at the other side of the receiving end, strictly speaking those whom the subject offended just to get his way, well you can imagine the sighs of relief and burden that was washed away now that their threat was out of mind, out of sight.

Ah, what a controversy.

And hence, what a great topic to write on.

In case you were wondering who in the world is Botak Chin, and why in the world would anyone give themselves such a sensible incognito, Botak Chin was not well, bald. His real name is Wong Swee Chin and he is known as Botak Chin simply because he wanted to help the poor and helpless. Don’t get it? Well let’s look at it in terms of the Malay language – ‘Bantu Orang Tak Ada Kerja’ a.k.a BOTAK. [3] Enlightened? Well, yes I would hope so. Again, in case you were wondering, and you definitely would, what did this man do to deserve so much attention? And why am I raving so much about him as though he is my lifelong dream partner? That you would find out as you unravel the mysteries of his short-lived life, with our help of course. But first, let me give you a brief introduction of our subject of discussion.

Just try googling Botak Chin and you’ll find that in any website you click, he is dubbed as Malaysia’s version of Robin Hood. According to the Malaysian high-profile criminal records, he was known as Malaysia’s most notorious gangster in the 1970’s, with a series of robberies, bloody inter-gang rivalries and run-ins with the police. [4] “He was a genius in his own way. He was small-sized but if he set his mind to do something, nobody could have stopped him.” “He was always one step ahead of you,” was Abu Bakar Juah’s comments about Botak Chin. [5] 

Now you get the gist of Botak, an introduction being an introduction, I should let the rest of my team enthrall you with Botak’s biography and his surrounding cronies. Till then, please do enjoy our report.

At The Beginning

Written by; Lee Boon Ho

Family Background

After looking at the picture of Botak Chin it is really funny to see that a guy with a head full of locks being named botak, which in Bahasa Melayu stands for bald. Do not worry, his parents were not trying to be funny or anything, the explanation on how he got the title botak was explained in our introduction. However, his parents did give him a proper name, which was Wong Swee Chin.

This infamous gangster was born in 1951 and hails from Kuala Lumpur. Being a gangster that brought much fear to the society living in Kuala Lumpur in the seventies, there was much question and rumours about his family background and upbringing. Some thought he was an orphan and some even said his father was a mafia lord. However, after doing a thorough research, his family and upbringing was very much like any normal person walking on the streets of Kuala Lumpur.

Botak Chin came from a family of twelve. He had nine siblings. As his father was a retiree who worked with the Malayan Railways, they lived at the Malaysian Railway Quarters next to the Caltex station in Jalan Ipoh [6] . Although they were poor, Botak Chin’s father always reminded his children to always do good deeds and always have a stronghold onto their principles and values in life. His father was rather strict with the upbringing of his children.

However, after the death of his mother, Botak Chin felt disconnected from his family for he shared a very close relationship with his mother. Furthermore, his family started to fall apart as a result of his mother’s passing for his dad could not cope with looking after ten children and providing an income for the family. Hence, after losing his stronghold, he found solace in his close friends who became his close companions and confidant. He stayed away from home and he preferred staying with his friends [7] . He felt more comfortable and a stronger sense of belonging when he was with the company of his close friends. He treated them like his very own brothers.

Sadly, spending too much time away from home meant he had too much freedom and he did not have anyone to look out for him or to show him the right path in life. He did not have a guardian matured enough to advise him on what was right and what was wrong. Away from his father’s watchful eye [8] , he slowly was exposed to the dark underworld and how was it like to live as a gangster. He was intrigued and drawn to the lifestyle of a gangster for he felt they were powerful and they could instill a sense of fear in people. He wanted to know more, he wanted to be like them and he did.

Early Education

His parents placed a lot of importance on education. Therefore they made the effort to give all of their ten children the proper education they needed to succeed in life. Botak Chin received his early primary education at a Chinese vernacular school. He then went on to study at Methodist Boys’ Secondary School in Sentul. However, Botak Chin was not very interested in books and figures. So he lost interest in his education and did not complete his secondary school studies. Instead he quitted school when he just completed Form 3, after sitting for his Lower Certificate of Education examination [9] . Botak Chin became a school dropout at a young age of fifteen [10] .

It was a pity that Botak Chin did not complete his education, for by judging on how he thought and how he carried himself, he was naturally intelligent and he was obviously gifted with brains and wit.

Quoting Abu Bakar Juah, one of the prison guards that had the chance to guard the legendary Botak Chin;

“He was a genius in his own way. He was small-sized but if he set his mind to do something, nobody could have stopped him”. [11] 

He even had a rather sociable and likeable personality;

Abu Bakar says Wong could be friendly and he used to have a game of checkers with him [12] .

A man with immense determination; not forgetting wit and intelligence with a slight touch of style and charisma, Botak Chin had the raw materials of becoming someone great, maybe even a leader. He did become a leader, a rather influential one that many spoke off and knew, but for all the wrong reasons.

His Work

Written by; Eunice Agnes Sivasothey

Although proclaiming himself as the Malaysia’s “Robin Hood”, Botak Chin managed to instill such fear and anxiousness in the minds of his fellow countrymen. Notorious for being a cold-blooded killer which set the country amok with his uncountable crimes and serious rampage of murders , left the police force during the 1970’s puzzled and stumped on how they are ever going to finally bring justice to this man.

Wong Swee Chin (Botak Chin) embarked into a life of crime in the early years of his life. After quitting school at the tender age of 15, Botak Chin was exposed to the life of the underworld and got himself involved in a gang which called themselves “Gang 360 in Kuala Lumpur”. [13] Gang 360 (Sak Pak Lok) consisted of local hoodlums which influenced him to commit petty and minor crimes. [14] 

In the year 1969, when Botak Chin was just 18 years-old he illegally obtained his very first firearm which was a 0.22 revolver. Soon after, he created his very own gang and became the mastermind of 8 robberies. However, he was caught eventually and was thrown in jail for seven years. Botak Chin was released from prison in November 1974. [15] 

As any convict released from jail, Botak Chin tried very hard to turn over a new leaf and live a reformed life. He turned away from crime and attempted to live a respectable life by selling vegetables to earn a living. Nonetheless, he found living an honest life was hard and tiring for the income was little and scarce. Living under such conditions, the idea of reverting to his old life started forming in his mind again. [16] 

Within less than a year of his release from jail, Botak Chin returned to a life of crime and in April 1975, he formed a new gang which comprised of a few of his friends, namely; Ng Cheng Wong (Ah Wong), Beh Kok Chin (Pangkor Chai) dan Teh Bok Lay (Seh Chai).

Botak Chin and his cronies (as portrayed in the biographical film of himself) [17] 

The very next month, he went up to Thailand in search of a friend of his to purchase guns which were needed for robberies. [18] Readily armed with guns, Botak Chin and his gang attacked an illegal gambling den in Sentul on the 2nd of June 1975. They successfully escaped with RM5,800. Money obtained from that robbery was used by Botak Chin to enhance his gang’s force. He went up to Thailand again to acquire more firearms and ammo. He purchased 8 more firearms and 100 bullets. [19] 

Items seized by Malaysian police after Botak Chin’s arrest (now on display @ Malaysia Police Museum) [20] 

The gang’s next act was to rob a bank in Jalan Imbi. From that robbery, they obtained RM95,000 in cash and RM25,00 of the total sum was used to purchase a Datsun car. Not long after that, Botak Chin and his cronies robbed a Buddhist temple on Jalan Kolam Ayer. [21] They shot a few mah-jong players and looted RM10,000 worth of goods including cash, gold and expensive items [22] .

Botak Chin started a rampage of robberies and this rampage caught the attention of the then City’s Criminal Investigation Department deputy head, Deputy Superintendent S.Kulasingam and he was on the quest to capture Botak Chin. Due to numerous robberies, gang fights and even gun battles with the police, Botak Chin was running low on ammo and firearms. Hence, to overcome this shortcoming, he attacked three policemen and took their pistols. He even stole firearms belonging to security guards during a robbery at a bar in Sentul. [23] Botak Chin also enjoyed showing off his abilities and capabilities in handling guns. He would challenge anyone at Sentul Railway Club to compete who was better at Cowboy Style shooting. [24] 

Nonetheless, of all the crimes he committed, the biggest and most dangerous robbery he executed was the robbing of a security guard transporting money to the Horse Racing Club. This massive robbery took place on the 26th of October 1975. Botak Chin shot the security guard and managed to escape without being caught with RM218, 000 in cash. The cash obtained was once again used to buy even more firearms from Thailand. He spent about RM40, 000 purchasing a huge collection of weapons which included 19 firearms, 5 grenades and 1,000 bullets [25] .

Apart from organizing robberies, Botak Chin was also involved in various gang wars. One prominent gang war which he was involved in was the gang war between his own gang and the infamous Five Finger Mountain gang. This particular war was plain bloody and horrifying. The gang war resulted in a few deaths namely the death of the Five Finger Mountain gang leader as well as the death of Botak Chin’s own gang member, Ah Wong [26] 

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The involvement of Botak Chin is a large number of crimes and the his ability to resist capture from the police force and escape life threatening situations lead many to believe he had something more than luck on his side. Something that made him powerful, fearless and even at times invincible. Hence, there were theories and rumours about him having an amulet or a lucky charm that gave him supernatural powers. It was said that Botak Chin wore a BE2480 (ie: 1937 AD) batch Tok Raja (a famous Buddhist monk) pidtta and takrut (a type of encased spell scroll made by the Tok Raja). Because of this pidtta, Botak Chin was able to always suddenly disappear whenever the police tried to arrest him or he could just evade the sight of the police attempting to arrest him. According to the legend, pidttas provides strong protection and gives the wearer the ability to avoid danger. Many believe that the police managed to finally apprehend Botak Chin with the help of Tok Raja. [27] 

Whatever the case maybe, whether Botak Chin had an amulet giving him powers or he was just one lucky person, I believe that luck played a very minor role in his crimes and robberies. The success of his robberies and his amazing ability of out-witting the police force time and time again most definitely did not solely depend on sheer luck but more on his wit and fore-sight. And quoting him, he said, “I was always one step ahead of you (the police)”. [28] 

In his own special and unique way, he was a pure genius with an amazing mind.

The Capture

Written by; Rachel Chong Suet Yeng

Botak Chin brought in by the police.

This part of the chapter is based on the real life experience of Datuk Syed Meer Wahid Al-Hubshee Syed Ibrahim, 78, a dedicated, loyal and determined ex-police officer who served the police force from 1951 to 1986, and who was penned down in history as being the ‘unsung hero’ and mastermind behind the final capture of Malaysia’s most notorious criminal, Botak Chin, a.k.a, Wong Swee Chin. [29] 

Unfortunately for Botak Chin, the night of 16 February 1976 marks the end of term of his controversial conduct, protecting the welfare of the poor and helpless, albeit by misguided ways as seen by some but his principles regarded by others as noble and compassionate. According to Datuk Syed Meer Wahid Al-Hubshee Syed Ibrahim, or more commonly known as Syed Meor, he was the Campbell district (presently known as Dang Wangi) head officer who bravely took up the role of the late Deputy Superintendent (DSP) S Kulasingam, Head of department of Crime Investigation, Kuala Lumpur after the latter was injured by Botak Chin’s cronies and was being treated in the hospital.

The raid which eventually lead to the arrest of Botak Chin took place in a sawmill factory in Jalan Ipoh which was tipped off by an informer that there were heroin pushers in the sawmill factory. Syed Meor ordered the informer to slip into the factory but to no avail due to certain obstacles. According to him, he had to take on the responsibility of assessing the situation himself, and by which he wore a turban so as to not be recognised. As soon as he saw the right hand man of Botak Chin, Pangkor Chai (Beh Kok Chin), he immediately contacted the Kuala Lumpur chief police officer, Tan Sri Mohamed Amin Osman to call for 3 backup teams that would surround the sawmill factory.

The trick was to intercept any phone calls made from within the factory to confirm the presence of Botak Chin in the alleged hideout. To their dismay, no phone calls were made for four days straight, and thus the police force could not take action as fear of ruining their chances. The fourth night was the last night the police force was going to lay around and wait, aimlessly for a miracle to happen. And it was a jolt of the blue that phone call was made on the last night of the operation, and truly, it was without a doubt the voice of Botak Chin. The subject phoned his cronies in Ipoh and the plan was to attack Genting Highlands.

As soon as the police confirmed that Botak Chin was in the sawmill factory, they burst into the scene and started a gun-shooting stint. Approximately 500 gun shots and tear gas were discharged which resulted in an extensive chaotic situation. Pangkor Chai and Ah Keong counter-attacked the police force with more gunshots and threw a grenade towards the police. In the midst of the crazy situation, Botak was shot at his leg and right hand. In obvious pain, he crawled towards two of his best right hand man but fear and guilt enveloped him as he found both of them lying as still as a log, dead and gone. [30] As the atmosphere cleared up, Sentul chief officer (which Syed Meor misplaced his name) found Botak lying helplessly beneath a table. [31] “Sir… Please help me.” Was all that he could utter.

Botak was dragged out from beneath the table. This marks the end of Botak’s liberty and invisibility as he finally fell into the long arms of law.


Written by; Choong Huayen

Transporting Botak Chin’s body to be buried.

Wong Swee Chin better known as Botak Chin was arrested for a year after being caught by the police force. To the police force that was on Botak Chin’s trail, the day of his capture was a day of celebration and jubilation for many thought it was virtually impossible to catch this notorious gang leader. However, the so-called “invincible” man was finally brought in and was then handed over to the courts where justice was about to befall on him.

Botak Chin was then pleaded guilty by the Kuala Lumpur High Court and was given the much dreaded death penalty after being convicted on three charges under the Internal Security Act (ISA) [32] . For all the vicious and cold-blooded crimes he had done, he was sentenced to death by the rope, which many in the nation thought that this was the only punishment suitable for such a heartless gangster that caused havoc and released terror among the community in Klang Valley during the seventies.

He did not want to die; he did not want to end his life in such an unfashionable way neither did he want to admit defeat for he felt his business here was not complete yet. Therefore, he hired a lawyer and appealed against his sentence to the Privy Council on the 1st of April 1980. [33] Botak Chin defended himself by calling himself the modern day “Robin Hood” [34] as he had robbed from the rich and gave some spoils to the poor while he used the remaining spoils to buy more equipment for the next robbery. There was this one incident where Botak Chin showed compassion and pity towards an old ice-cream seller. Botak Chin met this old man selling ice-cream on a bicycle. He told the old man to get off his bicycle, and he grabbed hold of the old bicycle and threw it across the road. He then reached into his pocket and pulled out a few thousand ringgit. He gave the money to the old man and told the old man to go home and get some rest [35] .

However, the court did not rule in his favour and Botak Chin was found guilty on the 16th of May 1980. The Board of Pardons and Supreme Court refused the appeal Botak Chin has made; he was not going to escape the rope. [36] To them, the amount of wrong-doing and the amount of terror caused by him was more than severe enough and they did not see fit to allow someone like him to escape the gallows of death.

After being denied a chance to appeal against the death sentence, Botak Chin became desperate; he did not want to die, this is not how he wanted to go, he had to find a way out no matter what it took. He had to do something to get out of this predicament and he needed to act quickly for time was not on his side. Hence, on the 1st of January 1981, he made a desperate attempt to escape the Pudu Prison from his death row cell. Botak Chin used a sharp weapon to escape; he unmercifully stabbed three prison officials in his gruesome and desperate attempt to escape the death gallows. However, Botak Chin was unsuccessful and he sustained very serious injuries in his attempt to escape [37] . After this failed attempt at escaping, Botak Chin did not have the strength neither did he have the will to try to escape anymore; he finally surrendered and accepted his fate. He just waited patiently and quietly for the day of the hanging, for his finite end of his life as a criminal feared by many.

Botak Chin had a request before he was hanged. A request that surprised many and caused many to question their perception of him as a heartless and cruel criminal. He wished to donate all his vital organs to the hospital for medical purposes. This act signifies the intentions of possibly a good man who was misjudged and probably went about doing good in the wrong way. However, this request was also denied as Botak Chin did not go through the proper procedures and did not write a written consent [38] . It was disrespectful in a way to deny this request as this was Botak Chin’s dying wish before he was hanged from the rope.

Botak Chin had a final request before his hanging; he requested to wear his Tok Raja Pidtta during his rope hanging. His request was denied, however, the judge promised to return the Pidtta to Botak Chin when he is confirmed dead [39] . This is because the Pidtta is believed to bestow and give power to the wearer which enables the wearer disappear from danger and Botak Chin has escaped countless dangers and even captures when he was wearing this Pidtta. The Pidtta may seem like a superstitious belief and does not have any solid or concrete proof of its powers. However, the judge most definitely did not want to risk Botak Chin escaping again. Hence, he disallowed the Pidtta as a safety measure.

11th of June, 1981, the day of the hanging of Botak Chin had finally arrived. As the prison guards entered Botak Chin’s prison cell to take him to the execution chamber, he said to them “Sudah sampai ah? Saya rasa macam lari 100m, sudah sampai garisan penamat.” (Is it time already? I felt like I ran 100m and I am close to reaching the finishing line.) Like standard procedure, the prison guard then wrapped his head with a black cloth and Botak Chin was brought to the execution chamber blindfolded [40] .

The silence that followed him was deafening and only echoing footsteps were heard as Botak Chin slowly climbed up the steps of the execution platform, his final destination. He then stopped right under the rope hanger. The rope hanger was wrapped around his head and Botak Chin was asked for his dying wish, which was to donate his vital organs to the hospital for medical purposes. After his dying wish was written down, there was pitch silent for a moment, as it was still 2.59am. Everyone held their breath as the hour of death was upon them in just a few moments.

When the clock turned 3.00 am, the gear was pulled. The platform under Botak Chin’s legs opened and his body fell down and the rope violently broke his neck and he was left hanging for a moment to ensure he was definitely dead. This was the end of the 28 year old Botak Chin [41] , the most notorious criminal of that time who lived fearlessly and instilled the feeling of fear in everyone around him. People all over the country knew him; even the little kids on the streets chanted his name during his reign. And now, finally all around the nation, everyone breathed a sigh of sympathy and relief, for the chase for Botak Chin had finally ended.


S Kulasingam

Written by; Ng Sijie

S. Kulasingam (on the right) greeting other police officers.

S Kulasingam also known as Kula by his mates was the former assistant CID chief of Kuala Lumpur and Johor CID chief [42] . S Kulasingam was born on 12 August 1931 in Seremban, Negeri Sembilan. He is a tall and huge person. Kula is about 6 feet 2 inches and weighs nearly 216 pounds [43] . He is well built and strong which is much needed in his field work as a policeman and CID chief. His name, S Kulasingam means “lion of the community” in Tamil [44] which very well described his role in the society. At a young age of only 19, he decided to join the police force [45] . Before that, he worked as a teacher for around 6 months [46] . He then chose to quit his job as a teacher due to him wanting to help build a safer nation for the benefit of the society.

Once he started his work as a policeman, he was very well respected. In July, 1951, he became a probationary inspector. At that time he was merely 20 years old. With much skill within him, he managed to climb up the rankings to attain the post of assistant superintendent of police in August 1957 [47] . Soon, he became the police officer most feared by criminals around the 1970s. “It’s not easy to kill me. I won’t go before my number is up,” Kula had once said in an interview, after having survived several attempts on his life by desperate gangsters. [48] He was best known for capturing the notorious and infamous Botak Chin. Many robberies took place under Botak Chin’s name. Thus, a special force led by S Kulasingam was required to make Botak Chin’s capture possible. This achievement made him one of the best police officers in the Royal Malaysia Police(PDRM). [49] He should be made as a role model for the youth of today and the future.

During his time serving the nation as a police officer, he led many operations and achieved new heights by decoding and solving rare and complicating cases. S Kulasingam also came in close combat with many dangerous as well as vicious criminals and convicts. One of his near death situations was a surprise ambush by Botak Chin at the intersection of Davis road traffic light, Circulat Road on 22 November 1975. [50] This was an attempt on Botak Chin’s part to assassinate him. 11 gunshots were fired at him that day. Fortunately, only one shot hit him right at his chest. Amazingly, he was still able to manoeuvre out of the danger to safety at a nearby police station which was the Cheras Police Station for backup and assistance. Besides that, S Kulasingam also operated in the case which involved the psychopathic rapist Kepong Chai who raped women and scarred their faces after raping them. [51

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