PETALING JAYA, Aug 5 — Guns are rented out for less than a night’s stay at a local five-star hotel while bullets are sold cheaper than a bottle of water, crime watchdog MyWatch co-founder S. Gobi Krishnan alleged yesterday as the nation continues to be stunned by the proliferation of shootings.
Yesterday, a 44-year-old businessman was shot dead in a drive-by shooting in Kota Kinabalu, bringing the number of gun-related incidents to eight in as many days — including a brazen attempt on Gobi’s partner in MyWatch, R. Sri Sanjeevan.
“It started as a favour of borrowing guns among friendly groups, then it became rental,” Gobi told The Malay Mail Online.
This rental “service” began last year, Gobi said, with guns hired out to assassins for as little as RM300 for three hours, with bullets costing just 80 sen each.
“It seems to be a new trend, copying what’s happening in other countries,” added the MyWatch adviser, referring to powerful drug cartels terrorising Mexico and South Africa.
He said that the trend of gun rentals started out small, but spiked this year as more people came to know about it.
Shootings and gun murders exploded into the nation’s consciousness last Monday when Arab-Malaysian Development Bank founder Hussain Ahmad Najadi was assassinated in broad daylight by a gunman in Kuala Lumpur, just days after Sanjeevan survived an attempted hit in Negri Sembilan on July 27.
According to Gobi, the most commonly available gun for rent is the Glock 9mm semi-automatic pistol. Popular with law enforcement agencies worldwide, the Glock is also issued to members of the Royal Malaysia Police (PDRM), Customs Department enforcers, the Malaysian Maritime Enforcement Agency (MMEA) and authorised RELA personnel.
“In the past few years, if you want to shoot somebody, you have to spend RM5,000 to RM6,000 for a gun,” he said. “Now, it’s just available.”
“If you buy a gun, you have to be worried as the police might catch you. But here, you just rent, execute the job where you shoot somebody, and then return the gun,” added the anti-crime activist.
Gobi stressed that there was no surge in the smuggling of firearms into the country, but said corruption in Malaysia’s Anti-Smuggling Unit guarding the border between Thailand and Malaysia has enabled the entry of some firearms.
“Definitely there’re corrupt officers there. Otherwise guns cannot be brought into the country,” Gobi asserted.
Malaysia has strict gun control laws that allow people to own firearms only if they have a licence from the police, and last week, the authorities were urged to publish the names of licensed firearm owners in the country.
The police and Home Ministry have blamed the rash of shootings and violent crimes on the release of detainees once held without trial under the now-repealed Emergency Ordinance, and are angling for the return of such powers.
Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak has also vowed to provide the police “anything” it needs to fight serious crime, including extra powers under a new law that is expected to be tabled in Parliament in September.
On Thursday, the Performance Management and Delivery Unit (Pemandu) announced the government’s decision to introduce new interim measures that allow law enforcers to tap into public communications, as well as to snap electronic tracking bracelets on criminal suspects to arrest the rising crime rate.
Opposition lawmakers, however, have criticised Putrajaya’s plan to intercept communications for intelligence gathering, calling the move “overkill”.
They further contend that Malaysia did not need new laws to combat the growing menace, but only for the police to devote more than just 9 per cent of the force it currently does to crime fighting.