"If they cross the line, they will pay the price" was the stern message from police to a Yuen Long triad leader in a secret meeting yesterday.
The meeting with the faction leader of the 14K triad came four days before a public forum on a new town planned for Hung Shui Kiu in the northwest New Territories, a police source said.
"He has been told that police will not tolerate any trouble, and must take action against them if they cause any trouble," the source said.
The leader was warned that police did not want a repeat of the scuffles that marred Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying's meet-the-people session in Tin Shui Wai last month, the source said.
After the conflict between pro-establishment and pan-democratic groups at the event, police arrested four suspected triad members.
Members of Sun Yee On's Tuen Mun faction and 14K's Yuen Long faction were believed to have been called in to support the pro-establishment groups. They included the Yuen Long faction leader's henchmen.
It was also alleged that some Sun Yee On triad members were paid for attending the event.
But despite the arrests, Chief Superintendent Kwok Ho-fai of the Organised Crime and Triad Bureau said last week there was no evidence that the triads had infiltrated Hong Kong politics.
The triad faction leader met by police yesterday is a villager and landlord in Yuen Long.
It was believed the man supported the plan to develop Hung Shui Kiu because he would get a huge sum of money if the government resumed his land for the new development, another source said. "He doesn't really want to help the government," the source said. "He just wants to help himself and guarantee his own interests."
The source said police met the leader because they were concerned he would mobilise his henchmen to muzzle protesters who opposed the project.
The man was understood to be one of the rural leaders who attended a dinner with Leung's election campaign aides in February last year, which led to rumours Leung had triad links.
The faction leader was also among 130 people arrested in a crackdown against triad groups Wo Shing Wo and 14K in August last year. Both groups are active in the Yuen Long district.
Yesterday, a police spokeswoman said police would not tolerate any violence or triad activities, and would spare no effort to combat any illegal acts.
The public forum on Saturday afternoon will be held in Yuen Long Theatre Auditorium.
Planning Department assistant director Amy Cheung Yi-mei will attend the three-hour forum, and police tactical unit officers will be deployed to guard the area.
More than 50 members of a concern group for squatters in Yuen Long's Tan Kwai Tsuen and Wo Ping San Tsuen will also attend the forum.
Although the two villages, located south of the proposed new town, will not be razed under the plan, the group fears the government may change its mind.
The proposal - which divides Hung Shui Kiu into zones for commercial, logistics and technology, and residential use - will displace about 1,400 households.