KUALA LUMPUR, May 23 — Retired police officer Deputy Supt Kenneth James Woodworth who was a member of “The Magnificent 12” an elite squad formed to stop Botak Chin — one of the most notorious and feared criminal in Malaysia in the early 60s and 70s has died.
As tribute poured in for the former crime buster, many recalled his years of unrelentless dedication to the Royal Malaysian Police (PDRM) in battling serious crime in the country.
Inspector-General of Police Tan Sri Acryl Sani Abdullah Sani and his deputy Datuk Razarudin Husain expressed their deepest condolences upon the passing away of the legendary police officer.
The veteran policeman died at the age of 89, at University of Malaya Medical Centre this morning, according to a statement released on PDRM’s facebook page.
The late Woodworth was a senior police officer from the Serious Crimes Branch and was selected to be a member of “The Magnificent 12” in 1976 to hunt down Botak Chin whose real name was Wong Swee Chin.
“Indeed, the service and devotion that has been poured out by him will always be remembered throughout the ages and his passing is a great loss for us as well as the country,” said PDRM.
Senior Assistant Commissioner Nik Ezanee Mohd Faisal told New Straits Times (NST) that he remembered Woodworth as a man of peace.
Nik Ezanee said he had the opportunity to meet with Kenneth when he was the Petaling Jaya district police chief in 2020.
He described Kenneth as a true patriot when he remained in Malaysia after his retirement even though his immediate relatives were abroad.
“I remember these words: ‘Malaysia is my country.’ Such words boost my commitment and morale towards my work and the country.
“There is no doubt Kenneth is a true patriot, he is a hero,” Nik Ezanee, told the English daily.
During an interview in 2020, with veteran journalist Najib Abdul Rahman that was published in NST, Kenneth while recalling the role he played in the capture of the most wanted criminal said: “Botak Chin could never be anything else. He was born to become a criminal.” Kenneth said while the media dubbed the elite squad as “The Magnificent 12” he preferred to call themselves the “Dirty Dozen”.
He said this was because the team worked day and night without bathing, shaving or changing clothes in order to get information on where Botak Chin was hiding.
In 1976, the squad tracked Wong and his gang to a sawmill in Jalan Ipoh, KL, and cordoned off the area so that no one could get in or out. They proceeded to engage in a shootout with the gang, and despite the gang’s firepower, they couldn’t defeat the squad.
Subsequently, a few of Wong’s gang was shot to death, and Wong himself was arrested.
Woodworth’s wake is to be held at Holy Rosary Church, Kuala Lumpur on May 23 and 24 from 9am to 9.30pm.