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The Legacy of Kelantan's Sacred Talismans for Kongkrapan Supremacy


In the continuation of talismans interests on invulnerability, the supremacy of Kelantan’s sacred talismans in this area is no less famous than any other highly acclaimed talismans of similar nature. In order to provide a significant grasp on this topic, we would like to complement with another legendary story that formed part of Malaysia’s history from the late 70’s, the legendary Botak Chin – a modern-day Robin Hood.  It’s not in our intention here to condone the glory of crimes and improper actions that is against the law, but rather to look into the “Kongrapan Chatri” type of Takrut incantation scrolls and Pidta from a new but relevant perspective.

















In relating this legendary Malaysian historical story account, being Buddhist seeing and understanding that imminent karma effects could bring all kinds of suffering right from the moment of birth.  Sad as it is, each and every one of us has our own karma that is being conditioned from past life actions.  To be born into varying circumstances such as poverty or richness, happy loving or sad family life, associating with good or vice influences, success or failures, and the list goes on.  Circumstantial uncertainties can be very painful and disheartening as though like going through the fire every moment.    
Being born into this human existence, a child is innocent and would not understand about karmic effects as they cannot remember their past life no matter what religion or parentage the child may have been born into.  It is an uncontrollable karmic phenomenon of birth that one is born into an environment with many siblings and tough family living conditions where money is always a concern.  This is what exactly happened to Botak Chin in his life birth.  To a certain extent one may like to think twice again to have a kinder view of a person because no matter how “notorious” as some quarters may call it, there is always a kinder side in human nature just as in every condemned person. 
In retrospect, we shouldn’t be too judgemental in passing senseless comments about Botak Chin but should instead interview those hard core folks who are desperately trying to make ends meet and had directly benefited from Botak Chin’s patronage.  There are many mixed feelings about how people would perceive him.  There are also those who would praise him for his bravery and righteousness.  One thing for certain is that he would never distinguish anyone by race or religion when helping the poor with the loots he had robbed.  With all respect, it is very unfortunate that he had to succumb to his fate due to his karmic actions.  
















Coming back to the original topic of this article, it is our primary objective to set the record straight for 3 intriguing matters surrounding this legendary story and myth of the Pidta and Takrut talismans worn by Botak Chin during his heydays. 





Firstly, Kongkrapan Takrut has the ability in saving life against bullets and sharp weapons while avoiding dangers.  This fact can be traced back to the archived newspaper stories where Botak Chin was seriously injured by 6 guns shot wounds during a gun fight with the police. ‘Tangkal’ is the Malay word for Takrut.
“According to newspaper reports, at the time of capture, Botak Chin had with him a green cloth with Siamese writing and a plastic green purse containing a note book.  He also wore 3 tangkal - one tangkal round his neck and 2 other tangkals round his waist”.
However, there is no specific mention as to the Takrut identity and from which temple they originated from until today.  The popular belief is Tok Raja’s Takrut that he wore on his body that prevented bullets from killing him at the scene. Contrary to this popular belief, there is also another belief that he wore Wat Ariyakiri Than Lek’s Takrut. We will never know the truth unless there is credible evidence to further establish this fact.  One thing we do know was that the Takruts are made of metal type either from lead or copper.    
Secondly, there are ill construed ideas given by some “story tellers” saying that our Malaysian police actually sought help from Tok Raja to apprehend Botak Chin.  This notion is entirely untrue due to the fact that Tok Raja had already passed away in B.E.2505 (1962) whereas Botak Chin’s reign of terror took place in the late 60’s into the 70’s until his final arrest in 1976.  It is true that the police sought help from a Buddhist master in Kelantan to apprehend Botak Chin. But have we ever considered another theory that the police might have sought help from Wat Ariyakiri instead because Than Lek was still around until 1975.     
Thirdly, there is so much hearsays and rumours circulating around the amulet collectors sphere in associating Tok Raja’s Pidta with the one worn by Botak Chin.  While the avid amulet collectors may staunchly subscribe to this notion that Botak Chin wears Tok Raja’s Pidta, but then again there is no solid evidence to establish this circumstantial fact with regards to which batch or version.  Again there are also rumours claiming that it was Than Lek’s Pidta instead. 
 “It was rumoured that the reason he managed to successfully evade capture, survive and escape from numerous gun battles with the police is because he wore a very powerful Phra Pidta talisman obtained from a Siamese shaman”.
In addition to the 3 pieces of Takrut worn at the time of arrest, “Botak Chin also wore a Rolex watch, a gold chain with 2 pendants and a jade gold ring”. Again this paragraph could not establish the real identity of the 2 pendants seized from him.  There’s very high possibility that the pendants are the Pidta either Tok Raja or Than Lek. 
The next question is what happened to the Pidta after the demise of Botak Chin.  From hearsays, the legendary Pidta was kept by the prison warden whom was tasked to conduct the execution. It is still unsure as to the exact where about of the Pidta and Takrut talismans after the death of Botak Chin. 

In view of the 3 intriguing issues highlighted above that are still being clouded with much uncertainties and speculations as to whether Tok Raja or Than Lek’s talismans, we will never know the truth for sure.  In conclusion, one may like to reconsider a more general approach in viewing that the Pidta and Takrut worn by Botak Chin originated from Kelantan’s best masters at that time.
May the reading of bibliographical compilation on Botak Chin’s life history allow us to have more compassion toward the underprivileged and may create in us loving kindness towards all sentient living beings. Life being reborn as such in the human realm is full of challenges and suffering just like any rebirth in any other birth conditioning.


The Early Life



Wong Swee Chin or better known as Botak Chin was born in Kuala Lumpur in 1951 (or 1953) to a family of 10 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. Botak Chin studied at a Chinese vernacular primary school and then went on to attend the Methodist Boys’ Secondary School in Sentul up to Form 3 (the Lower Certificate of Education), after which, he quit school. Having left school at age 15, Botak Chin started working as a fishmonger at Jalan Tun Ismail (formally Maxwell Road) market. After his mother's death, he often spent time away from home preferring to live with his friends. Away from his father's watchful eye, he then got involved with the local hoodlums where he was initiated into committing petty crimes. This, in turn led to him joining his first gang; the 360 gang (Sum Pak Lok). He was impressed by his friends' firearms. On 19 April 1969, he and his two other friends robbed for the first time. At the age of 18, in 1969, when he illegally obtained his first firearm (a .22 revolver), he formed his own gang and proceeded with robbing sprees.




Own gang

After forming his own gang and obtaining his very first firearm a .22 revolver, they robbed eight times in the same year within a month. This led to his first arrest, conviction and prison sentence. He was sentenced for 7 years but was released before he served the full term. He tried to lead a normal life right after that but was unsuccessful at his attempt, as he finds that his income as a grocer was not satisfiable.

He formed a gang with Ng Cheng Wong (aka Ah Wong), Beh Kok Chin (aka Pangkor Chai) and Teh Bok Lay (aka Seh Chai). A month prior to this, he went to Thailand to purchase guns. Then on June 2, 1975, readily armed, the gang hit an illegal gambling den in Sentul and made off with RM5,800. With the proceeds from that robbery, Botak Chin "reinvested in his business" - he again went to Thailand to acquire even more firearms and ammunition - he apparently bought another 8 pieces of firearms and 100 bullets. The gang used a vacant tin mine in Kepong as their shooting range, targeting stray dogs. There were also reports that Botak Chin used to openly display his gun at the Sentul market but nobody dared offend him for fear of being made a victim.


On July 20, 1975, now with even more "tools of the trade" - the new firearms - the gang became more ambitious, they robbed a bank in Jalan Imbi and fled with RM95,000. They then gunned down several mahjong players inside a Chinese temple in Jalan Kolam Ayer and made off with RM10,000. With his share from the robberies, he bought a Datsun car. Owing to the growing terror in Kuala Lumpur, the police also stepped up their war against Botak Chin. Deputy Superintendent S. Kulasingam (a much-feared high-ranking police officer at his time, nicknamed 'Crime Buster of Kuala Lumpur') was assigned to stop Botak Chin. Because of his many robberies, gun battles with the police and feuds with rival gangs, Botak Chin needed more firearms and ammunitions, as well as enlarging the influence of his gang and strengthening his position as a gang leader. Desperately, he even went as far as targeting policemen - as evident in one case, he attacked 3 policemen and captured their pistols.



Newspaper Report dated Nov 24, 1975. Gang leader Botak Chin was believed to be behind the shooting of DSP Kulasingam. Police then set up a 12-man team dubbed 'The Dirty Dozen' that eventually captured Chin in a shootout on Feb 16, 1976. 

 Botak Chin also obtain protective talisman (called tangkal) from Siamese shamans (locally called bomoh siam or bomoh Thai). It was rumoured that the reason he managed to successfully evade capture, survive and escape from numerous gun battles with the police is because he wore a very powerful Phra Pidta talisman obtained from a Siamese shaman.
In one particular incident in Segambut Dalam involving a shootout with the police, despite his car being riddled with bullets, miraculously he managed to slip away unharmed. This led to many rumours claiming that the talisman he was wearing made him invulnerable to bullets, knives and even poison. Some even believed that he could become invisible at will, thus escaping unseen. Botak Chin grew more fearless and even more determined to pursue his goals for more power in the underworld. Even on 25 September, when one of his right hand men, Chau Kuan (aka Ah Kuan) was shot dead at a sundry shop at Jalan Kovil Hilir, failed to cripple the operations of his gang nor demoralise him even a slightest bit.


Their biggest hit was on Oct 26 1975, where the gang fled with RM218,000 after gunning down a security guard delivering money to a turf club. With his share of approximately RM40,000 from the robbery, he again went to Thailand. This time he purchased even more weapons adding to his arsenal of 19 guns, 5 hand grenades and 1,000 bullets. Although things were getting better for Botak Chin and his men, but it only made his rivals even more jealous of his accomplishments, leading to an increment of confrontations between him and rival fractions as well as competing gangs. To consolidate his power as the supremo gangster in Kuala Lumpur, Botak Chin focused his attention towards gang wars. In one major war at a disused tin mine in Jinjang, one of his rivals, Tua Pui Lek (the head of the Five Finger Mountain gang) had sworn to sabotage Botak Chin and take over his position but eventually failed to, only managing to take out and killed Botak Chin's right-hand man, Ah Wong.

The police gained some success where one of his trusted lieutenants Seh Chai killing himself when he was surrounded by the police in Jalan Alor. Early 1976, Botak Chin started recruiting new members into his gang. This followed with 3 robberies where the gang fled with RM400,000. Despite the successful robberies, 7 of his men were shot dead and a few others were caught. The police confiscated 15 firearms, ammunitions and hand grenades.

Arrest and Prosecution


16 February 1976, the police captured Botak Chin in Eng Leong Sawmill. He miraculously survived despite being seriously injured with 6 gun wounds. According to the news report by the New Straits Times at that time, Botak Chin implied that he was set up by his own men, one Pangkor Chye and an Ah Keong. Botak Chin told the High Court that on that day, he was at the Tiong Nam settlement between 7pm and 8pm when Pangkor Chye and Ah Keong came to see him. They told him that 2 other people needed help and wanted to meet with him. Botak Chin then follow them by car to the Jalan Ipoh sawmill to meet the 2 people.

Inside the sawmill he sat on a chair for 15 minutes before asking Pangkor Chye and Ah Keong where were the 2 people they came to meet. He then said he proceeded to make a telephone call. After the call, as he was replacing the receiver, shooting started outside. He then felt pain all over his body. He became weak and giddy and then fell to the floor. Only then he realised that he had been shot. Botak Chin claimed that during the shooting, Pangkor Chye and an Ah Keong ran to the back of the mill. Then, when the shooting stopped, something was thrown into building filling the room with smoke. He found it difficult to breathe and became unconscious. When he regained consciousness, he found himself in hospital.

Botak Chin also denied being involved in robberies and said that his name was used by others who committed the robberies. However, a senior police officer testified in court that Botak Chin was conscious during his arrest. Botak Chin allegedly told police officers who arrested him that if he wasn't injured in his arms he would have shot and killed many of them. Botak Chin apparently said, "Kalau saya punya dua tangan tidak jem, saya sudah tembak. Lu nasib baik." (If my two hands are not injured, I would've shot. You were just lucky.)

Upon Botak Chin's capture, many rumours began circulating about his alleged invincibility. Some people believed that the reason the police was able to wound and apprehend Botak Chin was because, on that day, he left home without wearing his tangkal. Another version is that the police went to Thailand and obtained the assistance of Botak Chin's shaman to defeat him. According to newspaper reports, at the time of capture, Botak Chin had with him a green cloth with Siamese writing and a plastic green purse containing a note book. He also wore 3 tangkal - one tangkal round his neck and 2 other tangkal round his waist. Apparently Botak Chin protested when the police wanted to remove the tangkal saying "Ini saya punya tokong" (This is my temple). Botak Chin also wore a Rolex watch, a gold chain with 2 pendants and a jade gold ring. Police also found in his wallet some money (RM231, HK10, 50 pieces of Japanese "banana" notes and some baht) and photograph of 2 women.




On May 12, 1980, 27 year old Botak Chin, facing 3 charges under the Internal Security Act at the Kuala Lumpur High Court, denied having possession of firearms or ammunition under his possession or control. He denied that even the 2 pouches of bullets found in his trouser pockets during the sawmill incident were his. He claimed he did not know how they came to be in his pockets, reported the New Straits Times. But he pleaded guilty to ISA charges, which makes him the first Malaysian to plead guilty on ISA charges. He was sentenced to death by the High Court in 1980. 

The next year, on Jan 1, 1981, while on death row, he made an unsuccessful attempt to escape from his cell in Pudu prison, stabbing prison wardens but was seriously injured himself. On June 11, 1981, at 3am, Botak Chin was hanged. Ironically, none of the charges were murder. He was sentenced to death solely because the possession of firearms.

His lawyer appealed to the Privy Council for retrial but still found guilt. He appealed to the Supreme Court and Pardons Board gazetted under the Federal Constitution but was both rejected.


Personal Life

Dr. Mahadevan, the former director of Tanjung Rambutan Mental Hospital in Perak, who treated Botak Chin for 19 days to determine if he was sane enough to stand trial, found Botak Chin to be highly intelligent - but a "misguided genius".

At the mental hospital Botak Chin told Dr. Mahadevan that since he was a young boy he always wanted to help the poor and down-trodden. He wanted to protect them from corrupt officials and gangsters who extorted money from the poor and weak. Botak Chin revealed that he was once brutally attacked by gangsters who entered his vegetable stall at the market and tried to extort money from him, failing which, they beat him until his collar bone was fractured. This incident changed his life. Botak Chin then started to learn martial arts and joined a gang for protection. He also encouraged people to join his secret society so that they won’t be harmed and exploited. Members of his secret society had to swear not to take advantage of the poor, cut their hair short and not taking drugs.

He further told Dr. Mahadevan that in his kampong people regarded him as Robin Hood because he robbed from the rich and gave a considerable amount of the bounty to the poor. Apparently, part of the loots went to his gang and part of it went to the family of those members who were killed or caught by the police. This possibly explains why he managed, time and time again, to hide and gain refuge in the squatter settlements when pursued by the police - with the goodwill he had with the poor, the community were helping him escape. He was their hero.

Botak Chin was no ordinary gangster. His secret society was guided by his philosophy and governed by strict principles and guidelines. These had to be complied by everyone including himself. To enforce discipline among his troops and keep order in the gang, he had executed henchmen who had breached the rules. He was not a killer, he was their taikor (Cantonese saying, means 'big brother') and he was just doing his job, he told Dr. Mahadevan. Having built a reputation of reverence among society as Robin Hood, people, especially the lower classes, treated him as such.

During his stay at the hospital, patients offered to wash his clothes and perform chores for him. Although Botak Chin never married, he had plenty of female admirers. Dr Mahadevan said he would get calls from women inquiring about Botak Chin when he was at the hospital. Dr Mahadevan said that Botak Chin was rushed back to Kuala Lumpur when a bullet was found in his high security hospital cell because it appeared that his men were coming to help him escape.



Attitudes

Dr. Mahadevan appeared during a trial session at the Malaysian High Court to provide statements to the court. Dr. Mahadevan told the court that he wanted to know why Botak Chin had sent a wreath to the late Tun Abdul Razak and he told him that he had always admired the leaders of Malaysia. He also had great love and admiration for Tunku Abdul Rahman.

Botak Chin told the doctor that it was a great thing to be a leader of Malaysia and it was a difficult task because three races were involved. He never realized how difficult it was being a leader until he became a leader of his gang. That was why he sent the wreath because he wanted to pay respects to a great leader. 

Dr. Mahadevan said Botak Chin felt he was also maintaining law and order because he and his men helped to smash dadah (drug) syndicates and secret societies by destroying their places of operation and burning the dadah. When the police were unable to solve some robbery and kidnap cases, Botak Chin and his men stepped in and got the stolen goods and return them to the rightful owners. Kidnap persons were also returned to their families. Dr. Mahadevan further elaborated that Botak Chin was given a transistor radio during his stay at the hospital. He listened to Radio Malaysia until it closed and he invariably stood to attention when the Negara Ku was played, much to the chagrin of the officers on duty. 



If he was given an opportunity to live again or to be reborn, he would like to be a doctor, a psychiatrist in particular, and help to mend broken hearts and shattered hearts like his. He also told Dr. Mahadevan that his stay at the hospital had been fruitful, that he had gained sufficient insight into his life, and he was nostalgic about his freedom, but he would let the law takes it course. He said he was not a malicious person and was not trigger-happy. There had been occasions when he encountered police officers who were at a disadvantage, but he did not shoot them. After going to the hospital, he had decided not to commit suicide but would like to die "a glorious and celebrated death". He also told Dr. Mahadevan that he was not afraid of death but did not want to die at the gallows. If his family felt that he was bad, they should throw his ashes to the drain. 

Why was Malaysia’s arguably most notorious criminal known as Botak Chin when he had a full head of hair? Adding to the confusion was his real name, Wong Swee Chin. The term does not describe his locks but is an acronym for Bantu Orang Tak Ada Kerja (helps those without jobs), explains Abu Bakar Juah an ex-prison warden.
He is said to be a modern-day Robin Hood, and Haji Aziz Haji Idris recalls a story he heard of Wong’s apparent compassion for an old ice-cream seller. He says Wong came across this old man and asked him to get off his bicycle. Wong then threw the bicycle to the side of the road, reached into his pocket, gave the man a few thousand ringgit and told him to go home and relax, says Aziz.
Abu Bakar says Wong could be friendly and he used to have a game of checkers with him. Despite the apparently normal behaviour, Wong was very much a criminal. “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 says.
“He was always one step ahead of you,” he says, adding that despite being in segregation, he managed to get hold of some weapons and stabbed two wardens. Wong was executed in Pudu Prison in 1981, and Abu Bakar remembers those final moments.

“As the door to his cell was opened to take him to the execution chamber, Wong said ‘Sudah sampai ah? Saya rasa macam lari 100m, sudah sampai garisan penamat (Is it time? I feel like I’ve run a 100m race and am approaching the finishing line)’,” Abu Bakar recalls.

During his final days, he sought solace in various religions. While it was his dying wish was to donate his organs for medical purposes, this request was rejected as he had not signed a written consent.

Conclusions

In concluding this bibliography, life in the 60's just after Malaysia's newly independence was tough where the social and economic climate was at its infancy stage. For the underprivileged fraction of society who have to live thorough the ups and downs in their life during those early days have to be very brave as thugs and secret societies are rampant.  The learning lesson to the Malaysian government from this episode of a bright and young school dropout turned gang leader had led to the revamping of the school system in the late 80's by making it compulsory for dropouts at age 15 to be admitted into vocational schools. The aim was to make the younger lads to be more matured by staying longer in the schooling system before joining the working class society. In my opinion perhaps this is the best legacy that Swee Chin had left behind for all the young future generations despite his last dying wish was not being fulfilled. 

Botak Chin's firm belief and faith in his Phra Pidta and Takrut talismans supremacy had provided a very captivating insights into the living tales of Kongkrapan Chatri in modern day. As we brace 'through the fire' in our work life, we at times will also sought solace and calm from the talismans we wear to help us go through difficulties. With faith and trust in the Triple Gems, we all hope to have a better chance to live life to the best without harming others or being harmed by others while adorning these sacred talismans.

The Relevance of Kongkrapan Chatri in Modern Days

How exactly Konkrapan Chatri or invulnerability is relevant in amulet talismans as to whether they can really exercise its protective efficacy.  The only way to find out is to obtain testimonials of such existence from reputable sources such as older folks or somebody who have experienced it and lived to tell the story to others.  Of course we do not want to create fairy tales nor put on a said- to-be very powerful Kongkrapan amulet and ask somebody to hack us with a sword or shoot with a revolver. Who would dare to do such a test even the master maker said it is perfectly alright?

After researching on this subject matter for many years, a credible source of testimonial relevancy on the efficacies of Kongkrapan Chatri talismans is pointing to Porthan Lek Wat Ariyakiri - another distinguished Kelantan's grand master.  In all aspect of the objective here is to put in credible examples of Kongkrapan Chatri without the slightest intent to promote any specific talisman. 

The great story being shared is about a Phakawan tested for superb Amnaj authority, Kongkrapan and Klaew Klaad powers to the wearer as being retold by Phor Kae Tharhap of Beris Kubur Lama in Bachok.  Phor Kae Tharhap was a Phor Moh “Bomoh” and he’s a disciple of Phor Than Kong (Tok Raja) and Phra Kru Lek. 
This phakhawan was worn by a Malay kampong gangster (in late 80s) from Pasir Putih. He was among the most wanted person on the police list because of cock gambling business (Laga Ayam). This kampong gangster was also wanted by the authority for illegally possessing firearms without a permit. 
During a high speed chase one day, the police from Pasir Putih successfully corned this gangster and this had forced him to fight back.  It took altogether 4 policemen to over-power him and one of the policemen whipped out a gun and pointed at the gangster’s forehead.  The policeman pulled the gun trigger and fired at point blank.  The bullet did hit the gangster’s forehead but the bullet could not penetrate his skull. In disbelieved, the policeman pulled another trigger and hit the man stomach but again, the bullet failed to penetrate his body.  
All the 4 policemen at the scene were shocked and immediately made a body search on him and they discovered 2 pieces of Siamese amulets on his body - a rolled Takrut tied around his waist, and an amulet hung around his neck.  The policemen seized the talismans and sent the gangster to the police station.  Sometime later after a life imprisonment sentence was passed down to the kampong gangster, one of the policemen brought the amulet to show to Phor Kae Thaharp.  It was identified by the late Phor Kae Thaharp that it was Phra Kru Lek's Phakhawan Maha Ud.
Phor Kae Thaharp smiled holding on the Pidta amulet and said “I don’t know whether it was this Phakhawan or the Takrut that made that man so invulnerable”.  The policeman only showed the Phakhawan Pidta to Phor Kae Thaharp and revealed that his other police friend whom pulled the trigger had secretly owned the Takrut piece.  
Many years ago I used to listen to stories from a close relative during his younger days how he witnessed people conducting Kongkrapan and Klaew Klaad tests on newly consecrated Pidta amulet. He related in one of the incident, his Thai friends will actually tie the amulet to the dog’s neck.  The guys will then use live bullets and shoot the dog at point blank.  Surprisingly after shooting the dog a few times with firearm, they sift through the dog’s fur and only found a few patches of burned hairs on the dog’s body.  The gun fired with loud bangs but the bullets miraculously did not penetrate the dog but leaving some bullet marks as a sign that the bullet did hit but without injuring it.  
There are 2 types of Kongkrapan effects against guns that we came across before.  One type is the gun would trigger with a bang but won’t injure the object with the example given above.  The other type is the gun trigger would only ‘click’ and jamming the gun barrel when the gun is pointed to an object bearing the sacred amulet.  However said, testing amulets on another living beings such as dogs is considered as condoning cruelty to animals. 

The video compilations provided here will hopefully provide readers with some ideas to a certain extent on this Kongkrapan subject matter, and the believability of such protective powers that it still serve as living example of desired talisman in today’s modern life filled with crimes and dangers at every corners.

May the above article had provided readers with a highly crucial and reference studying point that is still relevant to Kongkrapan Chatri protective talismans. 


Sabbe Satta Sukhi Hontu
May All Sentient Living Beings Be Well And Happy Always

The End.





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