Traders pay up as the triad menace grows
By YUEN CHAN
MORE than 40 per cent of Mongkok and Yau Ma Tei shopowners have paid protection money to triads in the past year, according to a survey.
The ''victimisation survey'' was carried out by the United Democrats' Kowloon West branch.
It was designed to throw light on the pattern of triad extortion and on why shopkeepers were reluctant to report the racketeers to police, said legislator James To Kun-sun.
The survey found that only 7.3 per cent of those who refused to pay protection money reported the attempts to police and 70 per cent of respondents were dissatisfied with police efforts to curb such crime.
Mr To said fear of attack was the reason why many traders failed to report the incidents.
He cited the example of a transportation company owner who was paying $12,000 a month because he was afraid the gangs would exact revenge otherwise. His questionnaire revealed he had tried to stop payments before but had been beaten up.
Mr To urged shopkeepers to co-operate with police, but said he recognised their fears.
More than half of the respondents believed police should set up a taskforce to deal with the problem and thought there should be regular meetings between officers and shopowners to discuss how to tackle extortion.