Our focus is money, not turf: Gang member

SINGAPORE - He dresses in expensive clothes and hangs out at the most exclusive nightclubs here. But ask the slim Malay man - who wanted to be known only as Rahmat - what he does for a living and he'll reply softly in Malay: "I'm in a gang."

The 27-year-old - who claimed to be part of the Omega gang - refused to give his real name to avoid getting into trouble with the law.

He also declined to be photographed, out of fear that he might be targeted.

The name Omega, Mr Rahmat claimed, is an acronym for "Orang Melayu Enter Gangster Area". Orang Melayu means "Malay people".

"I used to fight when I was younger, but I prefer to keep a lower profile these days," said Mr Rahmat, who claimed to have joined his first street gang while he was still a teenager.

The Omega gang, set up in 1989 in a now-defunct prison in Yio Chu Kang, was into drug peddling and typically used women as couriers to traffic heroin, according to previous news reports on the gang. But their dream of monopolising heroin distribution here came to naught when narcotics officers seized about 18kg of the drug and arrested about 40 people in a 1993 raid.

In 2003, The New Paper interviewed an Omega member who said there are at least 18 Omega divisions in Singapore.

A division can have as few as 40 men or as many as a few hundred. Members are marked with tattoos on their arms, usually the Greek letter omega.

"I don't think Omega sees itself as a gang, but more of a syndicate," Mr Rahmat said. "Other gangs fight over turf in nightclubs at Orchard Towers, but our focus is about money."

And the group makes money through various ways, including loansharking, pimping and selling drugs. Omega made headlines again in 2007. The syndicate would get Malaysian men to hide the drugs under the seats on their motorcycles, which they would ride into Singapore during the morning rush-hour traffic.

They would also get Singaporean women to travel by bus across the Causeway to Johor Baru and bring back drugs such as heroin and marijuana.

The ring was busted that year. Eleven suspects, including three Singaporean men, were arrested.

'Risky'

Said Mr Rahmat: "Of course, the job is risky... once, I even smuggled some Ice (a methamphetamine otherwise known as crystal meth) from across the Causeway, which we sold for a profit."

He declined to reveal how much he earns from being part of the gang.

Omega gang members, Mr Rahmat said, prefer to keep to themselves.

"Fights are unfortunate, but the last thing we need in this line of work is to draw attention to ourselves," he added.

Still, Mr Rahmat conceded that the risk of being caught is very real.

"I've been to jail twice and one time it was for smuggling drugs," he said with a sigh.


Get The New Paper for more stories.

Become a fan on Facebook