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Crime in Hong Kong

Hong Kong police storm traditional triad initiation ceremony

Officer said he had not seen a ceremony of its kind in more than a decade of law enforcement

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 29 November, 2017, 7:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 29 November, 2017, 12:37pm

When police officers stormed a wooden hut in Sham Shui Po on Tuesday morning, they were greeted with a scene that had not been witnessed by Hong Kong law enforcers in more than a decade – a traditional triad initiation ceremony.

A makeshift altar had been set up at the site of the antiquated ritual, flanked by joss sticks, wine, red and yellow papers and a meat clever.

Police believed the case involved a triad that was targeting asylum seekers from South Asia in the area for recruitment.

Officers from Sham Shui Po police district raided the illegally built wooden hut under a bridge on Tung Chau Street at about 9am, upon intelligence that there might be an illegal assembly there.

Superintendent Li Kwai-wah from the Organised Crime and Triad Bureau said a recruitment ceremony was in progress when officers entered the house, which was the usual haunt of homeless people in the area.

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Four suspects – three local men aged 43, 57 and 62, and a 45-year-old Vietnamese asylum seeker – were arrested for attending a meeting of a triad society. The 57-year-old man was also arrested for being an office bearer of a triad society.

The 62-year-old suspect was believed to be the master of ceremonies.

The group involved is believed to be the Wo Shing Wo triad. Two of the local suspects were joining the gang from another triad, 14K, while the Vietnamese man is believed to be a new member.

Li said the initiation ceremony in the case was antiquated, and added that he had not come across one like it in more than a decade of being an anti-triad detective.

“When officers got in the hut, the ceremony was under way. Some were kneeling down with others hosting the ceremony, which involved question-and-answer sessions and some movements.”

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One of the items found at the scene was a handwritten manual on how to run the ceremony, which Li said was quite complicated.

The officer said modern local triad initiation ceremonies had been simplified to just verbal rituals.

“[The ceremony on Tuesday] included the use of poems and other traditional rites that have rarely been seen in recent years. The Organised Crime and Triad Bureau is trying to see if there were any special motives behind this, or if it would be a way to draw recruits,” Li said.

Officers are looking into whether the rituals were used to attract asylum seekers from South Asia living in the area.