Hong Kong triads have become “patriotic” after the 1997 handover and they try to follow the orders of mainland security authorities, according to a former senior triad member.
“All the existing triad groups in Hong Kong are patriotic and follow the country’s orders,” said Michael Chan Wai-man, a Hong Kong actor well known for various triad roles and who is a retired triad boss in real life.
“There is a public security ministry… they are not talking about cooperating with triads,” Chan said in an interview with Chinese website Netease.com. “Triads can only follow what they are told to do.”
No Hong Kong triad group dares to confront China’s public security ministry, he said, adding: “Whoever tries to do so will not be able to operate anymore.”
Chan said he always tells young people not to join the triads, which have been a sunset industry since the 1997 handover.
The biggest change in Hong Kong’s triad community over the past 17 years is that triad groups now prefer harmony rather than conflict, he said, noting that many triad members have been shifting to legal businesses.
The rich ones are operating gaming clubs in Macau while the rest operate restaurants and cha chaan teng tea houses, he said.
Chan’s remarks seem corroborate recent media reports about Chinese officials’ influence over Hong Kong triad groups.
There have been allegations that mainland authorities ordered triad members to meddle in the Occupy movement that began in late September.
Some students have accused criminal elements of trying to break the street blockades and launching attacks on the pro-democracy protesters, with covert backing from mainland authorities.
Chan has never hid the fact that he had once led a triad. He is said to have had as many as 500 people under his command at one time, and held sway over the Tsim Sha Tsui district.
After giving up his former activities, he is now engaged in red wine business.
“Don’t call me big brother now as I am a businessman,” Chan said, adding that he feels lucky to be alive after the many street battles of the past.
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