Families in deadly ritual are Al-Arqam followers
Mohd Ali Kader Mydin, 48, said his younger brother Mohd Ibrahim and his family joined their elder brother in the deviant group’s activities several years ago.
He said their 50-year-old elder brother Mohd Abdul Razak, who is unemployed and a full-time Al-Arqam member, had convinced Mohd Ibrahim, his wife Rosina S.M. Mydin Pillay and their three children to join them.
“They had also been attending the group’s meetings in Selayang,” he said at the Kuala Lumpur Hospital mortuary yesterday.
Mohd Ali, who works at a hospital in Penang, said he had advised his brothers not to get involved with the movement but they refused to listen.
City CID chief Senior Asst Comm (II) Ku Chin Wah said police confirmed the family were Al-Arqam members and information was being gathered from four suspects who have been remanded for seven days.
One of the suspects involved in the “treatment” which claimed the lives of a middle-aged couple was said to be a staunch follower of a banned movement which practised cult teachings.
Several of the suspect’s siblings had distanced themselves from him after their repeated calls for him to give up his beliefs went unheeded.
One of the siblings, Mohd Ali Kader Mydin, 48, who came from Penang yesterday to take care of funeral arrangements, said the incident did not surprise him but added that it was tragic that it claimed the lives of his brother and sister-in-law.
Ali revealed that all those involved in the bizarre “treatment” which went horribly wrong, were siblings and their families.
The main suspect was the elder brother of Ibrahim. Arrested along with the suspect were two of the suspect’s sons, aged 21 and 23, and Ibrahim’s 17-year-old son.
“This is what is so tragic. I have lost one brother while the other could face murder charges. Added to that is the fact that their children have also been detained,” said Ali at the Kuala Lumpur Hospital mortuary yesterday.
All four suspects in custody are facing charges of murder and abetment.
Ibrahim, Rosina and their three children from Pandan Indah had visited the suspect and his family at their Sri Sarawak flat in Jalan Imbi on Hari Raya.
While there, Ibrahim complained that he was having problems giving up his smoking habit while Rosina complained of a liver ailment.
It was learnt that the suspect’s 23-year-old son, then suggested that they undergo a ritual which involved being beaten.
All 11 families members then took helmets and broomsticks and started beating each other. This went on for about an hour.
When the ritual ended, Ibrahim, Rosina and their 15-year-old niece, who is the main suspect’s daughter, remained unconscious.
An ambulance was called some six hours later by which time Ibrahim and Rosina had succumbed to head injuries. The girl was rushed to the hospital.
Investigations later revealed that the suspect’s son, who initiated the ritual, had a history of mental problems.
From “belief systems” to “shared delusions” — these are the reasons psychiatrists believed why a family of 11 resorted to beating themselves with helmets and broomsticks to rid the smoking habit.
There was the scenario of a cult being in play.
And while police expressed amazement over the sheer stupidity of the incident, psychiatrists said mental illness may not be the only answer.
Sunway Medical Centre and Monash University consultant clinical psychiatrist Dr Paul Jambunathan felt it is all about belief systems.
“When a person strongly believes in something, he will practise it,” he said, adding that a belief system is hard to change.
“In the case of the family, they believed that they had to beat something out of themselves, which means they assumed there was something in them, almost as if they were possessed.”
Dr Jambunathan said that history has always shown that punishment and physical pain are often used as treatment.
He cited the basic example of parents beating their children to teach them what’s right from wrong.
“There are people out there who mutilate themselves. This is known as self-injurious behaviour. Here, the physical pain translates into some kind of emotional resolution.
“The resulting suffering is the point of change,” he said.
He, however, said what happened with the family was abnormal.
“In the case of the family, we have to understand they believed this ritual to be possible. We cannot simply say that it a case of mental illness.”
He said there was the likelihood a few of the family members were defending themselves.
Universiti Malaya Psychological Medicine Department Professor Dr Stephen Jambunathan said people could indulge in such behaviour patterns because of cases of “shared delusions”.