Wong Swee Chin or famously known as Botak Chin was one of the most notorious and feared criminal in Malaysia in the early 60’s and 70’s. He was born in Kuala Lumpur in the year 1951.
Botak Chin had 10 siblings, and his father was a retired railways officer. He was educated in a Chinese primary school in Sentul and subsequently transferred to English medium school. He stopped schooling at the age of 15 and started doing odd jobs, including helping out in a night market near Jalan Tun Ismail for almost a year.
Botak Chin began to mix up with the wrong crowd, and joined the notorious underground gangster group (Geng 360). His life took a tragic turn when his mother passed away in 1968, prompting him to spend less time at home and more time outside with his new found dangerous friends. He started staying out in their houses and began to get involved in small thefts around the area of Sentul.
Botak Chin was already a gangster in the making, although he was a small sized guy. Together with his 3 friends and equipped with 2 guns, they committed their first armed robbery on 19 April 1969, when Botak Chin was only 18. Amazed by how guns commands respect, Botak Chin bought his own .22 inch revolver and formed his own gang, and within a month in September 1969, he had committed a total of 8 armed robberies.
However, Botak Chin was caught and convicted, sentenced to 7 years in jail. Ironically due to good conduct, he was released early, and came out from jail in November 1974.He tried surviving by working in Sentul Pasar again, this time selling vegetables. But the money was never enough.
Botak Chin came back to business.
In April 1975, Botak Chin formed a new gang, this time he was joined by some of the most hardened gangsters including Ng Cheng Wong(Ah Wong), Beh Kok Chin(Pangkor Chin) and Teh Bok Lay(Seh Chai). One month later, he went to Thailand to buy firearms for his new found gang.Early Jun, Botak Chin robbed an illegal gambling shop in Sentul and got away with RM 5800. He invested the entire money to buy more firearms from Thailand, and build his own arsenal consisting a total of 11 guns and more than a hundred bullets. In Kepong, Botak Chin practiced his shooting skills and improvised it by shooting stray dogs.
It is famously rumored that Botak Chin displays his gun openly in Sentul market, and the locals became very fearful and respected Botak Chin. In Julai, Botak Chin robbed a bank in Jalan Imbi and got away with RM 95000. The portion was shared among his notorious team mates, with Chin raking in RM 25000. He bought a new car, Datsun with this money, placing RM 3600 as a deposit. Next, a Chinese temple became the target of Botak Chin . RM 10000 was robbed from a few mahjung players in the temple.
Botak Chin was attracting too much attention and it was not long before Kuala Lumpur Serious Crime branch began investigation on him. Deputy Superintendent of Police, S. Kulasingam(at that time also one of the most feared and respected policemen) was given the task to capture Botak Chin. DSP Kulasingam is no ordinary man, he had been shot and even attacked with acid, yet he is one hell of a tough cop. DSP Kulasingam started his investigation.
Botak Chin was having problem obtaining firearms, forcing him to be targeting policemen. He robbed three pistols from three policemen. While robbing Sentul Railways Club, he openly challenged the members of the club to a shooting game ala cowboy style.
The police continued hunting him and in September, police spotted a stolen Alfa Romeo occupied by Botak Chin and his members. After a 3.2 km high-speed chase rained by the police bullets, the car finally stopped in Segambut Dalam. Botak Chin quickly disappeared in one of the nearby slum areas. In a hurry, they’ve also left a .38 inch revolver in the car. Together with another member, including one who was seriously injured, Botak Chin got away by hijacking another Volvo car.
On the 25th of September, his right hand, Chau Kuan(Ah Kuan) was shot dead in a grocery shop along the Kovil Hilir street. But little this deterred Botak Chin.On the 26th of October 1975, Botak Chin committed his biggest ever robbery, gulping RM 218000 after shooting down a security guard who was carrying gambling money from the Race Club. With his share of RM 40000, Botak Chin finds himself in Thailand where he added more weapons to his arsenal, totaling now at 19 guns, 5 hand bombs, and almost a thousand bullets.
However, Botak Chin position as a leader began to unsettle when other members starts questioning his ability. He quickly moved in to eliminate his challengers and a few days later, Tua Pui Lek (gang leader of Lima Jari Gunung) and his own gang member (Ah Wong) was found shot dead in Jinjang. Seh Chai, killed himself after he was surrounded by police in Jalan Alor.
Early 1976, Botak Chin recruited new members, committed three more armed robberies totaling nearly RM 400000. At the same time, 7 more of his new members were shot dead while the rest was caught. 15 guns, bullets and bombs were found to be in the possessions of the dead members. DSP S.Kulasingam was hot in pursuit of Botak Chin. It all came to an end on the 16th of February 1976. The police were tipped that Botak Chin was hiding in a wood factory near Jalan Ipoh, Kuala Lumpur. A detailed operation was carefully planned to ambush the hideout.
Police surrounded the area and waited till night falls and hours went by until a white Mazda turned into the factory area. 3 men came out from the car, and one of it was Botak Chin. They were well armed besides being equipped with 2 hand bombs. Botak Chin and his two other members did not realize that the police had surrounded the area, and continued with their usual activities. A few other gang members started patrolling the area, in order to protect Botak Chin. At that moment, the police moved in.
4 police squads from the Serious Crime Unit moved in, crashing into the factory area. The gang members, who were assigned to patrol the area, ran away. From inside the building, Botak Chin together with Beh Kok Chin (Pangkor Chai) and Hiew Foo Khen(Ah Keong), knew that something is wrong,and realized soon later they were surrounded by police.
The battle began, and the shooting was said to have lasted more than an hour. More than 500 bullets were shot towards Botak Chin and his members, topped with tear gas canisters. Pangkor Chai and Ah Keong shot back, also throwing in hand bombs towards the police. Botak Chin was eventually shot in his hands and legs, and was seriously injured. Within minutes, Pangkor Chai and Ah Keong were shot dead. Botak Chin was seriously injured and police moved in to arrest him. He could not fight back and taken to a nearby hospital where he recovered. It is believed that he took a total of 6 shots, but still survived.
One interesting thing about Botak chin was his obsession towards Tok Raja amulets. It is believed that Thai amulets could make someone invisible and individuals wearing it can obtain magical powers. Botak Chin was said to be wearing a few amulets, in particular ‘Phra Pidta’, the Deity of Deceiving. Even when he was caught, when the police tried to remove his amulet, he warned them;
“Ini sembahyang punya, jangan sentuh”.
Botak Chin was also known as the Modern Day Robin Hood, as he famously declared during his trial that he helps the poor by robbing the rich. Botak Chin as notoriously as he may have been, was in fact never turned in by any members of the public in Sentul area, neither was the police tipped. That also explains the reason why he managed to evade the police for a long time. Some people had even claimed that Botak Chin had helped the locals with the money raked in from the robbery, particularly the poor Chinese people in his area.
Botak Chin had also never been involved in rape or violence of any kind towards woman. However, many women fell in love with him, while he was in prison. He used to receive many letters from outside the prison, all from young woman attracted to this young handsome man. It is not an understatement to say that Botak Chin was good looking, as you can see from the pictures.
After Botak Chin recovered, he was detained for a year and subsequently charged under ISA, and was finally handed down death sentence after Botak Chin pleaded guilty. His case was retried in April 1980, the court returned the verdict that he is still to be hung. The Federal Court also rejected retrial of his case. Even when he was in prison, he attacked two wardens in two separate occasions, seriously injuring one of them.
One of the most ironic thing about his case was he was never charged of killing anyone, neither did he admitted to killing any. He was sentenced to death solely because of the possession of firearms and hand bombs.
On the 11th of Jun 1981, Botak Chin was brought out of his cell; his face was covered with a black cloth. He was taken down to the chamber of death, and he looked as calm as he had always been. At the age of 29, Botak Chin was hung to death, ending the episode of the most notorious and legendary gangster in Malaysia.