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Story of Ah Kong


Alfrescian (Inf)
Ah Kong (Chinese: 阿公) was an organized crime gang involved in its main trade of drugs and used to control the European heroin trade in the 1970s to 1990s. It was one of the world's largest drug syndicates with its origin from Singapore but was based in the drug capital of the world, Amsterdam, the Netherlands and Bangkok, Thailand where they received their drug supplies. The production of heroin was at an area known as the Golden Triangle formed by Thailand, Laos and Myanmar. The Netherlands is a haven for criminals because of their liberal laws and a gateway to one of the largest drug consumer markets in the world, Europe. Ah Kong was not a triad but a fearsome organized crime gang that was renowned all over Asia and Europe. [1]

Although Ah Kong was based in Amsterdam and Bangkok, it had operations in other major European cities and the Asia-Pacific. Ah Kong, which means 'The Company' or short for kongsi in Hokkien had never been based in Singapore. It was also known to have had Malaysian Chinese members and had Thai and Indonesian connections, and over the years they had built strong ties with the infamous Penang-based Sio Sam Ong. Most of the members of Ah Kong were Chinese Singaporeans and spoke Hokkien although they were overseas-based. It was formed when several members of See Tong (which mean buddies or a group of close friends) killed and seriously injured members of their rival gang in a gang clash, and escaped to the Netherlands. While in the Netherlands, the notorious gang received more members joining them. These new members had had military training that was acquired while doing their rigorous National Service stint.

After the assassination of the Ah Kong boss in 1997, they began to lose their influence to the Sin Ma gang based in Rotterdam led by a Singaporean fugitive wanted for first-degree murder with firearm in the 1980s. The last official Ah Kong boss died in March 2010.

SingaporeLike all places with significant Chinese population, secret societies and gangs were part and parcel of everyday life which the local populace in Singapore had to live with. The gangs' activities, which included extortions, illegal gambling, prostitution, drug dealing, loansharking (illegal moneylending), armed robberies and kidnapping, were a major menace in Singapore, especially in the 1950s to the 1970s. Gang wars that resulted in deaths and serious injuries, even to common bystanders, were a common sight in those days.

In 1954, the Commissioner of Police in Singapore revealed that there were 368 known secret societies in Singapore. The police had kept the records of 20000 members of secret societies, of which 6500 were active members. This was out of a population of less than two million people then. [2] [3]

To eradicate the secret societies, the Criminal Law (Temporary Provisions) Act was used by the Singapore government whereby suspected criminals could be arrested without evidence or warrant, and detained indefinitely without the detainee ever being charged with a crime or tried in a court of law.

[edit] OriginOn the night of October 23, 1969, Roland aka Hylam-kia, which mean Hainanese Kid in Hokkien and about ten of his fellow gang members from See Tong had armed themselves with machetes to attack two members of their rival gang, Pek Kim Leng (White Golden Dragon). The members of See Tong were in two cars and had trailed and cornered the car of their rival gang members at the junction of Bras Basah Road and North Bridge Road. One of the rival gang members, who were also armed, was killed and the other seriously injured during the attack.[4]

The clash had arisen from a previous dispute between See Tong and Pek Kim Leng gang members in a bar. Negotiation held later to settle the dispute was broken down. A 'curfew' between the two gangs ensued whereby gang members would attack at the sight of each other.

Roland and many of his fellow gang members were from a Hainanese village at Upper Serangoon, where the community was close-knit and included hardened fugitives and seamen. With the help of See Tong, Roland and some of his 'brothers' managed to escape to Malaysia and then to Amsterdam, the Netherlands. Most of the gang members involved in the attack were arrested and were jailed without trial.

[edit] The Rise of Ah Kong[edit] AmsterdamAmsterdam, the port and capital city of the Netherlands, already had a thriving Chinese community then. The earlier Chinese immigrations were from the former Dutch colonies of Indonesia and Surinam. This was followed by Hongkongers and smaller numbers of Chinese from Singapore and Malaysia. Many opened restaurants or work as chefs or restaurant workers. Others were gang members or fugitives.

The Netherlands's relaxed attitude towards drugs not only had created a domestic addiction problem, but also encouraged foreign narcotics merchants, especially the Chinese, to move into the country. Dutch law made it extremely difficult for the police to cope with narcotics traffic. A trafficker must be in physical possession of illegal drugs to be prosecuted. Sting operations and plea bargains are forbidden. Wiretaps cannot be used in direct evidence. Sentences are short and jails are as comfortable as college campuses.

Upon reaching Amsterdam, Roland and his brethren were received and taken care of by a person known as Johnny, or Big Johnny as some would like to call him. Johnny was the godson of Roland's mother. He was not a See Tong member but a seaman from Singapore who had resided in the Netherlands. Johnny was a man with many connections.

Roland and his brethren, who had very little money with them, saw how members of Hong Kong's infamous 14K triad were doing a thriving drug trade. In the early 1970s, drug addiction in Europe was growing at an alarming rate and heroin was in great demand. Very soon, Roland partnered Johnny and they founded Ah Kong but operated under the See Tong flag. It was later when more non-See Tong members joined them did they stopped using it and had a name change. Roland and his men operated as the muscles and Johnny imported the heroin. With only about 10 men altogether, Ah Kong was a very small outfit compared to the already well-established Hong Kong triads like 14K, Wo Shing Wo and Sun Yee On that had hundreds of members at any one time.

Ah Kong members then did not have firearms but often armed themselves with knives. An incident that marked their arrival to the Dutch underworld as fearless was when two members of Ah Kong (Johnny and his lieutenant) went to settle a dispute with the Wo Shing Wo triad in Rotterdam. Johnny's lieutenant severed the rival gang boss’s arm with a wakizashi when the latter became hostile and tried to pull out a gun. They escaped but not without a hail of bullets that followed. In another incident, Ah Kong members went to settle a dispute with the 14K at a restaurant in Chinatown. They entered the restaurant and yelled ‘Who's 14K?’. A young man stood up and replied he was and they shot him - killing him on the spot. The man who pulled the trigger was a Malaysian Chinese fugitive known as Tony. Although they were small in numbers but their actions had earned them respect and fear; and their reputation helped them to expand their influence.

By 1973, Ah Kong's dealings had grown and they had become a major player in the heroin trade.

[edit] 14KThe man in control of the heroin trade then was the first Chinese Godfather in Europe, Chung Mon aka Unicorn of the 14K. He was a Hakka born in Bao'an (present Shenzhen), China. He was the Chairman of the Overseas Chinese Association in the Netherlands. Not only did Chung Mon did a lot of work for charity and was decorated by the Dutch government, he was connected with the highest level of the Kuomingtang government in Taiwan as well. Chung Mon took a 5 percent cut for every drug deal. He was questioned by the police on a number of occasions because of his role in the heroin world, but was released because he had a friend with the police who had some influence. When the Chinese community erupted in a series of gunfights as rival gangs lined up on opposite sides of narrow streets and opened fire on one another with shotguns, the Dutch police went to Chung Mon for help and he gave them a list of most of his competitors.

On 3 March 1975, three men approached Chung Mon as he stepped towards his Mercedes outside his office, and fired ten bullets into the Chinese Godfather. It is believed that the three men, who were never arrested, were sent by Ng Sik-ho aka Limpy Ho, a major Chiuchow/Teochew drug lord in Hong Kong who was a rival of the 14K. (In 1991, a Hong Kong film, "To Be Number One", that depicted the life of Limpy Ho was made.) [5]

Within months, the 14K headquarters in Hong Kong sent a 426 Double Flower Red-Pole (high level enforcer) to replace Chung Mon as the new dragon head. His name was Chan Yuen Muk aka Mo Dedong because he striked a resemblance to the Chinese Communist leader, Mao Zedong. Chan was an aggressive and overbearing man who made it clear he wanted to control the drug trade in Amsterdam. Not only the 5% cut of every drug deal was to be increased but all drug deals would have to go through the 14K.

On the anniversary of Chung Mon's death, 3 March 1976, which was seven months after Chan's arrival in Amsterdam, he went to the Yow Lee domino club co-owned by Johnny and his sworn brother, Mo Yong, who was also a 14K member. On that day, Chan won a few million guilders on domino or pai kow from Mo Yong. Mo Yong contacted Johnny who was in Hong Kong at that time and requested a hit because he was unable to pay. Subsequently, Mo Yong told Chan to come back on the following day to collect the cash. After Chan walked out of Yow Lee, he was gunned down along with his bodyguards by the Ah Kong commandos. In no time at all, Ah Kong moved into the areas once controlled by the 14K and stifled the smaller independent dealers, comprising mainly Malaysians, Thais, Indonesians, Dutch, Hongkongers and Europeans. When the small-timers resisted, Ah Kong's actions were swift and brutal. First they resorted to torture, and then murder. Bodies were found on the canals of Amsterdam. From then on, their reputation grew for not only being fearless but also ruthless; and they dominated the Netherlands's heroin empire. Rules were set that whoever imported heroin into the country must hand them over to Ah Kong for distribution and Ah Kong would get a 20% cut, thus controlling the heroin pricing. Ah Kong's activities soon expanded to other European cities and had their men stationed in major cities across Europe.

[edit] SplitRoland, a recalcitrant and habitual gambler, started embezzling the Company’s fund. If the accountant would not collaborate with him, he would be replaced. Eventually, Roland’s insidious ways were exposed that led to the breaking up between Johnny and him. Johnny went to Bangkok and established the Hainan gang. He continued to export large quantities of heroin into Europe and his interests extended to the US. He was one boss known to be involved in the largest deals. During the 1970s, he imported multi tonnes of heroin into Europe alone. Besides the illicit trade, he owned many legitimate businesses from high-end sex clubs or brothels, restaurants to travel agencies and into financing movie production in Hong Kong where he was famously known to the underworld who had taken out Chan Yuen Muk. The incident did not deter his close relationship with the 14K from which Chan was from. Roland was not yet going to give up on the past; he gave order to his men to take out Johnny. One of Roland’s men who was indebted to Johnny’s kindness in the past squealed. Johnny came up with an elaborate plan of being ‘dead’ so that he could carry out his operation with ease.

There was a time Roland was detained by the European authorities and the Singapore police was ready to get him extradited back to Singapore to face a murder charge but it never happened. According to Lionel De Souza, a Singapore private detective who was with the Singapore's Criminal Investigation Department then, he was one of three local police officers on standby to extradite Roland. However, the deal fell through because there was no ground for the European authorities to detain him further.

On 30 August 1976, two Dutchmen were arrested at Bangkok airport when they attempted to smuggle 138 kg of heroin in drums. They received long prison sentences but their boss, Johnny, escaped and returned to Europe.

In 1977, law enforcement agencies from the west were ready to arrest Johnny at Bangkok airport once he touched down. When he left the arrival hall, the law enforcement officers walked up to him and identified themselves but Johnny’s men responded with firepower, and a shootout ensued. Johnny managed to escape. He returned to Amsterdam but was arrested and had 17 murder charges read to him. Miraculously, he was found not guilty due to lack of evidence. The shootout at Bangkok airport to the court hearings in Europe were all over the news from Asia to Europe. On 1 September 1977, Johnny was arrested again and sentenced to 10 years in a Swedish prison. After his release, he affirmed Roland spoke to the authorities and 'fingered' him.

Roland moved to Copenhagen later and permanently resided there. He married a Danish woman and took up Danish citizenship. Although some of his followers had good things to say about him, many had not any. Roland's reputation was anything but honest; and he was one known for ripping off his friends. When a well-respected See Tong member, Michael, visited the Netherlands in the 1970s, Roland ordered one of his men to publicly humiliate the unarmed man. In the 1990s, Roland in turn was openly disrespected and humiliated by Henry, who was the Ah Kong boss then, in front of the associates from Taiwan whom Roland had taken to visit Amsterdam. [6]

On the contrary, Johnny was seen as a very generous man. Many were ready to risk their lives for him and there were many who were ready to finance him if he so needed it.

[edit] OrganizationAh Kong thrived and grew until early 1978. When the Central Narcotics Bureau (CNB) of Singapore learned about the gang activities in 1977, undercover agents were immediately sent to Amsterdam and other European cities to probe the activities of Ah Kong. After months of investigations, they managed to compile a list of gang suspects and how they worked. Ah Kong members who returned to Singapore on holiday were detained and interrogated. The information gathered was shared with other drug enforcement agencies in South-east Asia, Europe and the United States.

The Singapore authorities found that the make-up of Ah Kong consist of Singapore gangsters, seamen and fugitives, and there were four key leaders. They were a highly dangerous group of men who had no compunctions about killing to protect The Company's interests. Within itself, the Ah Kong functioned like a close-knit family, demanding uncompromising loyalty from all members. However, Ah Kong was never run along secret societies or triads lines at all. It was well-organized and run efficiently as a business entity with a distinct hierarchy.

Ah Kong had also diversified its business into restaurants, the diamond trade, travel agencies, nightclubs, gambling and buying Kung Fu films cheaply in Hong Kong and making a lot of money screening them in Europe, which also acted as fronts for their illegal business.

Ah Kong members were all well-off from the profits of the drug transactions and spent freely on women, travel, expensive clothes and drinks. As a rule, Ah Kong left its members to their own indulgences. But ironically enough, the only thing it would not tolerate was drug consumption by members. [7]

The Ah Kong members were paid a basic monthly salary starting from 2000 guilders, and had their lodging and food taken care of. All the men, even the lowest ranking, were paid a yearly bonus from a “profit-sharing scheme” with the money from drug deals. Members were also given cars and a petrol allowance for which they had to produce receipts. There was a petty cash system where members could take money out to entertain their friends from Singapore. Each year, the members received about 20000 guilders as “clothing allowance” and Italian designer suits were highly recommended.

Singaporean and Malaysian seamen who worked as couriers in European cities were paid at least $2000 Singapore dollars a month with an additional $1000 Singapore dollars given to sent home to their families. Ah Kong members usually accompanied the couriers without them knowing it, to ensure that the heroin reached its destination without any problem. Drug couriers from Thailand and Malaysia were paid $15000 Singapore dollars per trip and given an all-expenses paid holidays in Europe. This sum, which could buy a house in Singapore in the 1970s, was not easy to resist. With the millions of dollars Ah Kong made, they were able to grow their business very fast. In one operation, they used 70 couriers on a single flight to Amsterdam.

One of the reasons for Ah Kong's success was that they were always one step ahead of the law. When Amsterdam customs officers started checking on all Asian passengers thoroughly, Ah Kong flew its couriers to 'safer' airports in London, Oslo, Copenhagen, Paris and Rome. From these airports, the couriers travelled to Amsterdam or Frankfurt by train or taxi. They avoided airports in Germany and Denmark because these countries used narcotics detector dogs.

In late August, 1978, the Central Narcotics Bureau (CNB) of Singapore spearheaded an international operation that resulted in the seizure of about $10 million Singapore dollars worth of heroin and the arrest of more than 50 members of Ah Kong in Singapore, Amsterdam, Hamburg, Copenhagen, Frankfurt, Kuala Lumpur and Penang. Among those detained were three of its four key leaders, which the authorities named Golden K, Ah Wee and Ah Li but the fourth, Ah Meng (Roland), escaped. The crackdown dealt a decisive blow to Ah Kong. [8] [9]

One of the Ah Kong members who was arrested cooperated with the authorities and provided information of the gang members' whereabouts was gunned down in Thailand after his release.

[edit] The New Generation[edit] 1980sTill the early 1980s, the leader of Ah Kong was Benson until he was jailed without trial in Singapore. The gang was later led by a new generation leader known as Siam-kia, which literally mean 'Siamese Kid' in Hokkien. Siam-kia had previously attained a university degree when he was in prison without trial in Singapore. After taking over the leadership of Ah Kong, Siam-kia handpicked a team of elite enforcers and ran the gang in mafia style. A casino was opened at Kerkstraat 23 in Amsterdam.

There was an occasion when Siam-kia was disrespected by the 14K boss known as Ngau Si. A clash between the two gangs erupted. Ah Kong members were not afraid although they were greatly outnumbered. They were already well known for being fearless and for their good fighting abilities. Most of them were trained boxers and/or military-trained, and some others were fugitives on the run from death row and had nothing to lose. The members swore that they would rather die gloriously on the streets than to face the gallows and the wrath of the Singapore law. Ah Kong defeated 14K easily and Ngau Si permanently retreated to London, United Kingdom. Siam-kia was the most popular amongst all the Ah Kong bosses. Although he was the brain behind Ah Kong, he owed his success to the many capable people he had equipped himself with - accountants and lawyers, a brilliant underboss and an army of courageous enforcers. Ah Kong became so prosperous that it owned more than a hundred racehorses in Singapore and Malaysia. However, like Roland before him, Siam Kia too succumbed to gambling. He lost heavily on horse racing that led him to embezzle the Company’s fund. The underboss of Ah Kong, Dennis aka Nor Du, who was not a former See Tong member, led a coup d'état, and the allegations implicated Siam-kia of embezzlement which led to his exit.

Siam-kia was eventually "deported" to Thailand where he went through difficult times. However, he learned to 'cook' MDMA/ecstasy and began producing them in his home laboratory, and he made a comeback in 1997. He operated in Southeast Asia and supplied ecstasy and ketamine to the Asia-Pacific market. He was also involved in cocaine and marijuana. He did met obstacles when he expanded his interests to Indonesia when the local kingpin there known as Hong Li, took more than a hundred thousand units of ecstasy from him but did not make payment. Siam-kia openly announced a death contract on Hong Li (Hong Li is still alive and living in Canada). Siam-kia had also incurred the dislike of some Ah Kong elders because he had betrayed a prominent Ah Kong old-timer, Jack, who had gone into partnership with him. For this reason, when the two men met many years later in Bangkok, Jack smashed a glass onto Siam Kia’s head.

In recent years, Siam-kia has made an enormous windfall from real estate investments and has gone into legitimate businesses in Cambodia. He runs a casino there and enjoy a very 'good relationship' with the local government.

[edit] 1990sAfter deposing Siam-kia, Dennis ruled the Chinese underworld in the Netherlands with an iron-fist. He was known as the most feared and most powerful Ah Kong boss. During this time, he saw the rising popularity of ecstasy and he began to import Piperonylmethylketone (PMK), the raw material used to mass produce the psychedelic drug for the export markets. He was also involved in other drugs, soccer bookmaking, loansharking and legitimate businesses as well.

Dennis was a man with great leadership qualities and managed his organization well. He spoke Dutch, English, Italian and several Chinese dialects. All his men and everyone in the Chinese community called him Ah Hia, which mean 'Big Brother' in Hokkien. He was ruthless to his kind but a heroic figure to the common folk. He instructed his men to avoid attention and to be polite and courteous to the common people; and to make sure that nobody make trouble for the Chinese businesses in the Netherlands. He once gave the order to execute the leader of a mainland Chinese gang who had extorted from Chinese restaurants and gang-raped a female restaurant employee.

During his reign, he recruited many Malaysian Chinese and some local Dutchmen. It was reported in the Singapore press that a hundred men could be flown in from Malaysia if there is a need for any gang clash. The second-in-command, Henry, and third-in-command of Ah Kong were former See Tong members.

Under Dennis' leadership, Ah Kong became more influential than ever. Dennis was very well connected and had built a vast pool of contacts from Asia to Europe. He had business dealings with the Italian mafia and Yugoslavian crime syndicate, although many adversaries were created at the same time. When Johnny re-entered the illicit trade, he imported 800 kg of marijuana and handed them over to Dennis for distribution. However, the payment was not made in full. Dennis gave the reason that the quality was not good enough for the agreed price. His claim was made only after he had sold the pot not upon receiving the shipment. During a meeting in Bangkok, Dennis insulted Johnny of being lacking in knowledge of dealing in the drug business and they ended with animosities. Dennis had received threats from his enemies and almost every competitor in the business wanted him dead. Therefore, he moved around with no less than 20 heavily armed bodyguards who carried bags packed with submachine guns and grenades, and who communicated with each other with walkie-talkies. He had also tightened security with surveillance cameras on the streets where the Ah Kong casino was located.

Ah Kong members were dressed in Versace and wore diamond-studded gold Rolex watches which became their trademark. However, Dennis chose to dress simply without any luxury accessories. Ah Kong soldiers would patrol the streets, airports and train stations and look out for 'China White' traffickers arriving from Asia and other European cities. If they spot any suspicious character they would check on their passports and search them thoroughly. Any one caught dealing behind Ah Kong's back would be punished and those who snitched will be awarded a cut from the drug seized. At one stage when the heroin problem was out of control, the head of the Dutch police publicly announced his plan to eradicate the Singapore drug cartel. After learning this, Dennis sent a C-4 (plastic explosive) to the police chief's home and the police chief was forced to relocate his entire family to a military base. Subsequently, the police chief sent his subordinate to have a meeting with Henry to make peace with Ah Kong.

[edit] The Fall of Ah KongIn 1997, Dennis received a call from a female friend asking to meet up. Thinking that he was to meet just a female friend, Dennis went alone and was gunned down mercilessly inside his car by two submachine gun-wielding men on motorbikes. The killing was headline news on the front of all the major newspapers in the Netherlands. The female friend’s family was heavily in debts but a few days before the assassination, the debts were mysteriously cleared. Siam-kia announced that he was the one who had ordered the hit. However, some people from the inner-circle discredited his claim and some said that the leader of the Sin Ma gang had a part in the conspiracy.

Henry, the second-in-command of Ah Kong, was automatically promoted to become the new leader. Henry had risen from the rank of an enforcer and had limited connections. He did not enjoy a good relationship with his peers and had little support from them, thus rendering him rather useless. He was fond of gambling at the casinos and loved to go to karaokes. He did not show much enthusiasm in seeking revenge for his predecessor, Dennis. The Ah Kong based in Thailand, in charge of transporting the drugs to Europe, refused to send shipments as a protest of his leadership. The Company’s fund was drained and Ah Kong slowly disbanded.

In 1998, Johnny was released from prison for the second time. He had been framed by a small-time Malaysian heroin trafficker and spent more than four years in a Zurich prison. He returned to the Netherlands and went into new trades: cocaine, 4-methylaminorex/ice and ecstasy; and his operations went beyond Europe to as far as the Asia-Pacific. He associated with the Russians and team up with his long-time close friend, a semi-retired Dutch kingpin, who was the ex-boss of the Dutch drug lord, Klaas Bruinsma. Johnny was doing well and he took Henry in when the latter was in difficult times.

In 1999, Johnny was found dead, at the age of 53, in a hotel room in Hong Kong after a huge cocaine shipment was busted. The Hong Kong police concluded that he had committed suicide; and the Hong Kong newspaper reported that he had stabbed himself. The day before Johnny died, he had handed over his possessions and identification documents to a close friend. Rumours were that he was not able to answer for the failed shipment to the people who had entrusted him and death was apparently his only answer.

Henry joined Jack’s crew, the Ah Kong old-timer who was in bad term with Siam-kia, until Jack died of a heart attack.

In 2009, Roland and his Singaporean friend, known as Ah M, who had flew to the Danish capital to celebrate his 61st birthday party was shot by his own man, a Vietnamese called Nguyen Phi Hung. The attack took place after Roland had closed his popular Restaurant Bali at Kongens Nytorv Square, the heart of Copenhagen's shopping district. He was shot in the shoulder but his friend was shot in the chest and was in a critical condition. Danish media reported that about 40 young people turned up at the hospital after the two men were admitted in an apparent show of support.

Danish police have stated that the shooting was over a "personal matter" between the gunman and Roland, and that there was a brief exchange between the two men before the shooting. Roland was described as the most powerful Chinese businessman in Denmark by Danish tabloid, Ekstra Bladet. Roland had previously been questioned by police in connection with several serious crimes, including drug dealing, blackmail and murder, according to Danish news reports.

Roland owns Restaurant Bali, a restaurant serving Indonesian and Malaysian food, and a few other restaurants in Copenhagen. The Danish branch of the Hells Angels biker gang, whose activities revolve around drugs and prostitution, had held parties at the restaurant. [10] [11]

Henry returned to Singapore. He had contracted cancer and died in March 2010 at the age of 58. He jumped to his death because he was unable to tolerate the pain of his illness. During Henry's prime, he was a fearsome enforcer respected by many but his last days in Amsterdam was a sad story. He was beaten up by the Mainland Chinese gang while he was weak and ailing and had no one by his side. He took the humiliation as he was helpless. He realized it was all over for him and left the city he once shined.

He was the last official Ah Kong boss.


Alfrescian (Inf)
The reason I post it here in rubbish heap is because of huge story and its meant for reading pleasure:smile:


Alfrescian (Inf)
Ah Kong members then did not have firearms but often armed themselves with knives. An incident that marked their arrival to the Dutch underworld as fearless was when two members of Ah Kong (Johnny and his lieutenant) went to settle a dispute with the Wo Shing Wo triad in Rotterdam. Johnny's lieutenant severed the rival gang boss’s arm with a wakizashi when the latter became hostile and tried to pull out a gun. They escaped but not without a hail of bullets that followed. In another incident, Ah Kong members went to settle a dispute with the 14K at a restaurant in Chinatown. They entered the restaurant and yelled ‘Who's 14K?’. A young man stood up and replied he was and they shot him - killing him on the spot. The man who pulled the trigger was a Malaysian Chinese fugitive known as Tony. Although they were small in numbers but their actions had earned them respect and fear; and their reputation helped them to expand their influence.

Respects to them :cool:


moral of the story.

fast money fast cars usually ended up dead.

walk the straight path and sleep peacefully at night.


Alfrescian (Inf)
Salakau In the late 1980s and early 1970s, Salakau furiously attacked rival gangs and started many turf wars. It also started recruiting many members from Indian and Malay communities after relaxing the Chinese-only rule. In the 1970s, more Malays were reported to be joining it after being introduced to gang members during tea dances in discos. This was because Malay gangs were smaller and more loosely structured due to the drastic drop of the Malay population and increase of the Chinese population.[1]

Salakau also made profits from narcotics, extortion and prostitution. Attacks on rival gangs such as the '303' gang (Sakongsa in Hokkien), the Omega gang and the 18 SYH gang were somewhat of a routine occurrence. The police cracked down on gang activity in the early 1980s and gang wars came to a screeching halt as many of the leaders were jailed. Many other notorious 'headmen' fled to neighbouring countries or were killed in gang attacks.[citation needed] In the 1990s, some teenagers in "pseudo-street gangs" claimed affiliation to Salakau to be "cool" but did not engage in activities as violent as those engaged in by the real gang;[2] in 1993, there were at least nine separate teenage gangs calling themselves 'Salakau'.[3] However, in the late 1990s and early dawn of the millennium, the gang gained strength as many of the jailed leaders were released, and several of the members had succeeded in scaring off many rival gangs from territories. Gang attacks once again became common and rioting cases shot up. Cases of murder involving gang attacks and riots were steadily increasing and the police tightened its noose on the gangs. Singapore's Secret Society Branch dedicated most of its resources to halt the gang violence and managed in netting in a considerable amount of members. Slowly but surely, the gang violence receded and many members were put in prison.


Alfrescian (Inf)
Ang Soon Tong (Chinese: 洪顺堂; Pe̍h-ōe-jī: âng sūn tn̂g) is a secret society based in Singapore and Malaysia. According to a former police officer, the society was active as early as the 1950s, mainly in the Sembawang area.[1] In 1998, a 19-year old youth was arrested for setting up a website dedicated to the society.[2]

As recently as 2008, Ang Soon Tong is still active, with one of its members sentenced to reformative probation that year for clashing with members of another secret society.[3]


Alfrescian (Inf)
YOU don't disturb my territory, and I don't disturb your territory.

That was how secret societies operated in Singapore in the 1950s and the 1960s. Gangland activities were rampant then.

Mr Harmon Singh recalls "those bad old days":

"When I first joined (the police force) in the beginning of 1959, I found out that secret societies were rampant. Organised crime, secret societies and gangland clashes were almost a daily affair, and there were gangs all over Singapore. Certain areas were worst than others. I got deeply involved in solving crimes and curbing secret society activities."

"In the course of dealing with the underworld, I learned that there were a few major secret society groups in Singapore. The main ones were groups like the 108, 24, 32 and 36, and the triad societies. Each of these major groups had splinter branches under them, for example, the 108 group had gangs like the Pek Kim Leng."

Click to listen to RealAudio.

Gangs were divided according to different areas in Singapore. The various gangs and their splinter groups were engaged in protection rackets, vice activities, prostitution and extortion in their respective "territories".

A gang would control many of the businesses operating in its area - like four-digit lotteries, opium dens, brothels and gambling dens. As some areas were controlled by different gangs, violent clashes often broke out between the groups.

A table of hot-spots for secret society activities: Who control where
Ang Peh Hor Jalan Membina, Tiong Bahru
Ang Soon Tong 10-milestone Nee Soon area to end of Sembawang
Hai Lock San Tiong Bahru, Seng Poh Road
Leng Hor San Covent Garden, Havelock Road
Pek Kim Leng Bugis, Chinatown
Sar Ji Boat Quay, Mohd Sultan, Kim Yam, River Valley Road
See Tong North Bridge Road, Beach Road, former Odeon Theatre area, Seah Street
Sio Oh Leng Ganges Avenue, River Valley Road

Even the "fairer sex" was not left out. All-women gangs, like the Ang Hor Tiap (or Red Butterfly Gang), were very common during the '60s and the '70s.

"They consisted mainly of cabaret girls, bar girls and hostesses," said Mr Singh. "Usually girls who were jilted by their lovers or who had had some unpleasant experiences with men. They were very mischievous and wild."

Mr Singh said that the women gangs were frequently involved in fights, but they usually did not engage in robberies or housebreaking.

These gangs gave protection to girls working in night-clubs and bars. Their favourite haunts were places like Clifford Pier, Eu Tong Sen Road, Jalan Besar, Tanjong Katong, Geylang and the Capitol Theatre vicinity.

PEOPLE became gangsters for several reasons.

Some looked upon gangs as a means of making a living, while others were influenced by friends. Some enjoyed the feeling of power of being associated with gangs.

But every new member had to go through the same initiation ceremony.

A finger of the new member would be pricked and the blood collected in a bowl. All the new members would then be required to drink from this bowl. The members also need to swear their allegiance before the Chinese Warrior God.

Mr Harmon Singh said that the gangs at that time adhered strictly to their "code of ethics":

"For example, when something goes wrong in a particular area involving two different secret societies, the headmen of the gangs will arrange for settlement talks.

"One headman will name the place, the other party will name the time. Then they will meet to talk. One party will bring five people, the other will also bring five people. If all goes well, they shake hands and forget about the incident. But sometimes things couldn't be resolved.

"For example, if someone overturns the table, it means that he is unhappy. A curfew is then declared between the two gangs, and from that moment on, if one member is found in a rival gang's territory, there is a high chance that he will be stabbed or beaten up."

Click here to listen to RealAudio.

The gangs created a lot of problems during the '60s and the '70s. Gangsters were involved in all sorts of illegal activities, extortion, even murders and arson. Fortunately, gangs were gradually wiped out after tougher criminal laws were introduced.

"When a law called Section 55 came into effect -- it helped put a lot of gangsters behind bars," said Mr Singh.

Under the Criminal Law (Temporary Provisions) Act, or "Section 55" as it is more popularly known, suspected gang members were detained or placed under police supervision without the need for open trials. Victims were allowed to identify gang members from photographs in secret, and not face-to-face.

"Some young kids today consider themselves gangsters but they are no comparisons to those old-time gangsters who did it as a living and who had certain codes of conduct," said Mr Singh. "To me, these kids are just hooligans."

Today, most gang members of the past have already gone clean to start legitimate businesses. Occasionally, Mr Singh still bumps into one or two former gang members whom he had once put in jail. And he even sits down to have coffee with them.

"If not for you," one ex-gangster told him, "I would have gone to prison for much worse crimes, and maybe even hung. I would have been a much more hardened person."

THERE were hundreds of opium dens all over Singapore way back in the 1960s.

And it was easy to detect a den, said Mr Harmon Singh. Just follow your nose.

"All you need to do is to stand at a particular spot, and just breathe -- you can smell opium, and quite easily know that there's a den in the vicinity. But today it's hard to detect in that manner.

"There were hundreds of opium dens all over the island, especially in places like See Kar Teng (Tiong Bahru area), Poh Lee Long (Henderson Road area), Ho Chwee Shua (Bukit Ho Swee), Sembawang, Johor Road, Queen Street and Geylang. "

Click here to listen to RealAudio.

According to Mr Singh, the opium smokers were mainly elderly Chinese people in those days.

"Some of the gangsters those days used to smoke opium before they went out to commit crime, especially housebreaking. It gave them the needed courage."

Mr Singh recalled how easy it was to carry out raids on opium dens.

"There were hundreds around -- you could see 30 to 50 dens in Tiong Bahru or Sungei Road area easily. Maybe even 50 or 100 in Chinatown alone."

Due to police efforts in wiping out drugs, the opium dens began to disappear in the 1970s.

As most of the dens were located in attap huts, urban renewal also helped to decrease the number of possible venues that could be used as opium dens.

"With newer drugs coming into the market, opium just went out of fashion."

REMEMBER the James Bond movie, Goldfinger? That is what some people call Mr Harmon Singh.

And the nickname could not be more appropriate for the private investigator, since the 14 gold rings that adorn his fingers have become something of a "trademark" for him. The significance is that he was born on the 14th day of December.

Another trademark: Mr Singh always wears white.

"I'm just a straightforward person," he said, "I'm not superfluous. Maybe that's why I like white, a colour that symbolises purity and cleanliness."

But don't, for a second, think that it would be easy to spot him from within a crowd. A master of disguises, Mr Singh will not hesitate to put on dirty clothes if his job requires him to do so. One moment, he is a kacang putih seller at a cinema. The next, he is a taxi driver making his rounds.

And if you ever encounter a shabbily-dressed road sweeper, look again. It could just be Mr Singh behind one of his many different "faces". His disguise kit includes items like a fake beard, a moustache, a songkok and a turban.

"I'm a very easy mixer and I can blend into any situation very easily.

"As an investigator, you should be very versatile. You must be able to act as a vagabond when the need arises.

"I don't drink any whiskey, brandy or beer but yet I pretend to be drunk when I'm at a bar or a tavern. I just keep my eyes and ears open."

Mr Singh is the holder of The Most Celebrated Private Detective in the World title, an award bestowed upon him by an international panel at a 1995 event organised by the Indian Institute of Security and Safety Management. Over the years, he has been awarded more than 30 medals and commendations.

His first book, "The Private Investigator: Licence to Peep", is written jointly with Straits Times journalist Rav Dhaliwal.

"The book touches on my life," said Mr Singh, "My police days, my childhood, my private investigator days, and also the secret societies and gangs that existed in the late '50s and the '60s."

He was an expert on busting gangs when he was in the police force and had received many commendations for his bravery and good conduct. Aside from rounding up gangsters and breaking up street fights, he also solved many crimes like robberies and housebreaking.

Mr Singh now handles mostly matrimonial cases (like divorce and adultery) and commercial crime, instead of dealing with hardcore gangsters.

To the aspiring investigators, Mr Singh offered this advice:

"You must have honesty, integrity and dedication. You must (be ready to follow) the principle of promising less and doing more. And you must be on call 24 hours a day."


Alfrescian (Inf)

Former Gangster Turns His Back on the Yakuza
Yasumasa Aoki, 64, looks every inch a senior Japanese executive on his day off: buzz cut, metal frames perched neatly on his high-bridged nose, buttoned-up shirt tucked neatly into jeans, and feet shod in grey sneakers.

His demeanor is kindly; his voice polite and well-modulated. But one inevitably notices the severed fingers on his hands: two on his left, one on the right.

On a Japanese man, missing fingers usually mean one thing: He is, or used to be, a member of the yakuza, the country’s notorious organized crime syndicate.

Yubitsume is a well-known atonement ritual in yakuza culture. When members have done something to displease their boss or bring dishonor to their gang, they have to self-amputate part of a finger, starting from the little finger and moving up to the index.

The practice can be traced to the way Japanese swords are traditionally held, with the last three fingers used for control and grip. Amputation results in a weaker sword grip, causing the offender to rely more on his group instead of acting on his own.

Mr Aoki, a former gang leader with the Inagawa-kai, Japan’s third-largest yakuza family, has performed yubitsume four times, twice on his right little finger. The last ritual took place more than 15 years ago, on his left fourth finger.

“It was very difficult as there was a lot of bone so I had to use my leg to step on the knife,” he says, grinning at the horrified expression of the Japanese interpreter.

He did it after kidnapping another triad leader in a case which left several people dead, resulted in a $500,000 bounty on his head and landed him in prison for 15 years.

He left prison last year, the bounty still on his head. But it is not giving him sleepless nights.

“All the yakuza members I knew are either dead or have gone on to do other things. But if God says I have to go, I will go. I don’t want to worry,” he says.

He is a changed man.

He used to freely draw his katana or samurai sword to express his rage, but now finds solace in the Bible.

“All I want to do now is set up a halfway house for ex-convicts when I return to Japan,” says Aoki, who recently completed a seven-month course at the City Harvest Church School of Theology in Jurong West.

He was born in Kamakura City in Kanagawa Prefecture, just outside Tokyo, the second of three children of a civil servant and his mistress, a former geisha.

“When I became older, I found out that my father had tattoos and was a former yakuza too,” says Aoki, who has the image of a warrior monk flanked by a tiger and dragon inked indelibly across his chest and entire back right down to his thighs.

He was a bully in school, taking delight in roughing up those he did not like. He was 12 when something happened that hardened his heart, he says.

“I had to attend a summer camp and my mother sent me off at the train station. When I came home three days later, my father, instead of my mother, was at the railway station waiting for me. I found it unusual,” he says.

When they reached home, he found his younger sister with a woman who his father said would be their new mother. “My own mother had moved to another city and when I went to see her, she already had a new life with another man.

“It hurt me a lot. I lost all faith in adults and all trust in human beings. I felt there was no place for me at home and that I had to be tough and protect myself.”

He soon dropped out of school, became a teenage terror, was caught and locked up, and finally joined a triad.

The next two decades were turbulent ones. He fought, did drugs, was promiscuous, went through three marriages — he has two sons in their 30s whom he has not seen for 15 years — and was jailed twice, once for six years after grievously hurting a man with his katana.

The incident which landed him in prison for 15 years took place in 1995. He was an unwilling participant, he says.

“In the old days, the yakuza had a lot of money. But in the early 1990s, the Japanese asset bubble burst. Many yakuza members could not afford the lifestyle they used to have,” he says.

One of them was one of his bosses, who ended up with debts of $17 million. Desperate, the latter hatched a plan to kidnap a high-ranking triad leader and roped in Aoki, who was reluctant initially.

“He told me how he had it all planned out. I knew I couldn’t say no because if I did, I would probably be killed,” he lets on.

What transpired would have made a great movie script, with tragic and comic elements.

A team of 10 was assembled. Masquerading as deliverymen, five of Aoki’s men turned up at the target’s home, kidnapping him when he opened the door. But after the deed was done, the mastermind had cold feet and wanted the man freed.

“I said no, we had to get the ransom,” Aoki says. The irony was that, instead of the $17 million they demanded, they ended up getting only $500,000.

“I know, it’s like a comedy,” he says, shaking his head.

But the repercussions were disastrous, resulting in the suicide of the mastermind and the deaths of several others. Aoki became a wanted man by both the yakuza and the police, and went on the run for 45 days. Meanwhile, a bounty was put on his head by a rival gang.

On Nov 16, 1995, he surrendered to the police. He was sentenced to 15 years’ jail on charges that included kidnap and the possession of firearms.

When he entered Tokushima prison, he was hell-bent on leaving his yakuza days behind. But his past caught up with him. Someone related to the kidnapped man recognized him and, during a prison baseball match, came up behind Aoki and delivered several blows to his head with a hammer. His skull was fractured.

When he came to in hospital, the first thing he saw was a Bible by his bedside. He says he picked it up and found comfort when he started reading it. Soon, he was attending Bible study sessions in prison.

Not long after the attack, he was transferred to a maximum-security prison in Kumamoto and it was there that he was baptized.

Pastor Yoji Nakamura, 42, from the Kumamoto Harvest Church who counsels inmates at the prison, first met Aoki at a Christmas party in 2004.

“He was very sincere about wanting to turn over a new leaf; there was no need to persuade him. He started corresponding with me, and at his request, I would also see him once every two months,” he says.

Aoki was released in March last year, and with help from his older sister, rented a room in an apartment near Pastor Nakamura’s church.

“He would come every day, and help to clean and take care of the place,” says Pastor Nakamura.

The former gangster came to Singapore in February this year on a City Harvest scholarship and recently completed his theology course, sitting through the English lessons with the help of a translator.

Not proud of the life he has led, he says: “I know I’ve hurt a lot of people ever since I was 15. I pray every day to find release from all the pain and suffering I have inflicted.”

Setting up a halfway house for former convicts is what he most wants to do now, to help them avoid going back to their old ways. He will be working on the project with Pastor Nakamura.

“After I’ve done this, perhaps I will go and see my children. They know me as a yakuza father. I don’t want to see them until I have done something worthwhile,” he says.
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Alfrescian (Inf)
Ex-gangster: Today's girl gangs have nothing better to do

GIRL gangs in Singapore? Not today, said 11 former women gang members who spoke to The New Paper on Sunday.

The days when the Red Butterfly gang - better known as Ang Hor Tiap (AHT) - carried out their deadly activities are gone, said a retired AHT member.

Lucy, 62, told The New Paper on Sunday in a mix of Hokkien and broken English: "Some of these girls (today) very bo liao." (Bo liao is Hokkien for bored or having nothing better to do).

"They think it's so easy to run a gang meh?"

At Lucy's request, we are using only her English name as she does not want her three grandsons to know of her past.

Gang members of the AHT were identified by the butterfly tattoos they wore on their thighs, groins or shoulders, said Lucy.

AHT was a feared all-girls gang in the 60s and 70s. Its members were made up mostly of bar waitresses, dance hostesses and prostitutes.

Each had butterflies of a different colour, ranging from red to black to blue. The leader wore the red butterfly - and was known in underworld circles as Madam Red Butterfly.

Their activities included extortion, assaults and intimidation. Their recruitment tactics were straightforward: Join us or we will cut up your face and body.

Many of them had boyfriends who were members of secret societies. That is likely to be the only similarity between the women gangsters of the past and those of today, said retired police officer Lionel De Souza.

Six of the former members interviewed said that they had joined their lovers' gangs only by sheer association.

Keow, 24, said: "I dated my boyfriend for about six months before I found out he was with a gang.

"Love... made me so impressed with the power he wielded whenever the gang went on a rampage." Keow added: "Becoming a member was just a natural process."

June, 26, had a woman lover who was with the gang. The pair had met when her manly looking lover beat up two men in a pub for harassing her.

June said: "I was mesmerised by how she could take on the men so easily."

Afraid of the possible "competition" from other women, June decided to join the gang.

Honey, who is in her early 50s, is a retired gang leader. She scoffed at today's supposed girl gangs.

"Look, these girls don't know the difference between being tough and acting tough. They're just craving for attention, which they get when they hang around in a group and make noise," she said.

Lin, 24, was not interested in studies and hated going home to a gambler dad and a factory worker mother. Her younger brother is autistic.

She said: "There was never enough money for school, so even when I dropped out of school, my parents weren't bothered."

Lin met one of her former classmates, who had become a gang member, when they were working in a department store.

Bored after work one night, she joined her classmate at a karaoke lounge. When they were having supper at a coffee shop, Lin's friend and the gang of about seven people beat up two boys and a girl "just for kicks".

Lin recalled: "When I saw their fear, it gave me a sense of power."

Mr De Souza pointed out that some girl gangsters were also likely to be cliques formed from the same school.

Feng, 26, is an example. She was the leader of a "gang of 12 girls that had nothing to do with the secret societies".

Feng said: "Aiyah, we were your typical Ah Lians who just wanted to have fun. We extorted money from those whom we knew we could bully and spent it on karaoke, food and shopping."

They split up only after two girls were caught for shoplifting and sent to a girls' home.


Th only conclusion that I can draw is that the Singapore Police Force would have collapsed if they did not have Lionel de Souza at the forefront fighting evil. The only things he was missing was a red cape and a red underwear.


Alfrescian (Inf)
Secret societies in Singapore (Chinese: 公司, Pinyin: gōngsī) are generally Chinese in origin. They have been largely eradicated as a security issue in the city state. However many smaller groups remain today which attempt to mimic societies of the past. The membership of these societies is largely adolescent, and sometimes includes non-Chinese Singaporeans.

Despite fading from contemporary Singaporean society, these secret societies hold great relevance to Singapore's modern history. The founding of the city state in 1819 saw the arrival of thousands of Chinese, thereby transplanting to Singapore social systems already present in China itself. Although the secret societies were commonly associated with violence, extortion and vice, they also played a part in building a social fabric for early Chinese migrants in Singapore.

Ironically, they were given leeway to control the Chinese populace due to the hands-off policy adopted by the British colonials, who hoped to create stability.


Early origins

The concept of Secret societies came to Singapore with the arrival of the Chinese during the modern city's founding in 1819, although pre-existing Chinese, particularly the Peranakans, had been living in the area prior to that. These early groups, however, were largely assimilated into Malay society, and had abandoned many of the social structures of their origins.

The term for secret society, hui (Simplified Chinese: 会, Traditional Chinese: 會), is often interchangeable with terms like kongsi (公司, Pinyin: gōngsī) or Chinese clan (会馆, 會館, Pinyin: huìguǎn), all roughly translating to the meaning of "brotherhood". The term kongsi is more widely known in Southeast Asia, however, whereas in China, the secret societies were just simply known as hui or tong.

Over in China, the concept of brotherhood as a form of non-blood kinship has been a unifying force for centuries, with evidence of its existence dating back to the Warring States Period of 475-221 BC. Specific references are often made to the sworn brotherhood of Liu Bei, Guan Yu and Zhang Fei in the Romance of the Three Kingdoms.

These forms of kinship were enforced through the taking of a blood oath, a process usually conducted only in times of strife, and therefore evokes a sense of rebellion against the wider social order. This sense of brotherhood is also associated with the concept of mutual aid, a key component dating back to the Tang Dynasty period from 618 to 907. Forms of aid often involved the pooling together of resources (including financial), or the loan of these resources, and were utilized for needs such as basic livelihood, the holding of a marriage, or financing and supporting political rebellion.

Individuals requiring such mutual aid were often economically or socially under-privileged. It was therefore common for these hui to be formed amongst the poorer, lower-class males of Chinese villages.

The first secret societies

The secret societies which formed in Singapore can be traced to mid-18th century Fujian province in China, with the local offshoots adopting an organizational structure mirroring the parent organization. The Hongman (洪門), the first secret society to be established in Singapore, traced its origins to the Heaven and Earth Society (Tiandihui) in Fujian.

Policing secret societies

Despite their founding principles of mutual assistance and bonding, secret societies have, over time, come to conjure up impressions of violence and disorder. This association, perhaps exaggerated, has been encouraged by law enforcement officers since their formation in the colonial era. This perception was strengthened by several factors, including the inability of the colony's administration to control their activities, the branding of arrested society members as "criminal gangsters" by the media and an upsurge in violent crime in the 1960s sparked by a few society members. These factors came together during the same period in which the country was trying to gain a foothold fresh from having attained political independence it did not foresee.

Several important riots in Malayan history prompted had earlier colonial government to respond unambiguously. These riots include the Penang Riots of 1867 (which involved the Ghee Hin) and the Post Office Riots of 1876. The Societies Ordinance of 1889 was introduced as an attempt at suppression.

List of secret societies

Ghee Hin Kongsi

Hai San Kongsi

Cho Koon Kongsi

Ghee Khee Kongsi

Ghee Sin Kongsi

Ghee Soon Kongsi

Chen Chen Kow (Tsung Peh Kongsi) 松柏公司

Ghee Hok Kongsi 義福公司, 义福公司

Ghee Khee Kwang Hok Kongsi

Hok Bing Kongsi (Hok Hin Kongsi) 福興公司, 福兴公司

Hen Bing Kongsi

Choo Leong Kongsi

Ang Bang Kongsi

24 Ghee Hai Kim


Sio Yi Ho

21 Tong Meng Ge

Pa Hai Tong 21

Ang Meng Tong 21


Hai Lo San

Ghee Hin Kongsi

The Ghee Hin Kongsi (Simplified Chinese: 义兴公司; Traditional Chinese: 義興公司; Pinyin: yìxīng gōngsī) is a secret society in Singapore and Malaya, formed in 1820. Ghee Hin literally means "the rise of righteousness" in Chinese. The Ghee Hin often fought against the Hakka-dominated Hai San secret society.

Ghee Hin was initially dominated by the Cantonese, although Hokkiens formed the majority by 1860. Teochew, Hainanese, Hakka and Foochow form smaller minorities. Their main lodge was located in Lavender Street, which contained the ancestral tablets of important ex-members, before being donated to the Tan Tock Seng Hospital when it was torn down in 1892, following the Suppression of Secret Societies Ordinance.

The Ghee Hin were notorious for riots against Catholic Chinese in 1850 (killing over 500), as well as post offices in 1876, against a new, and more expensive, monopoly on post and remittances. The colonial government began to move towards surveillance, control, and finally suppression from 1890s onwards.

Ghee Hin and Hai San were the two secret societies that were involved in Perak civil war in the 19th century.

Ang Soon Tong

Ang Soon Tong is a secret society based in Singapore. According to a former police officer, the society was active as early as the 1950s, mainly in the Sembawang area. In 1998, a 19-year old youth was arrested for setting up a website dedicated to the society. As recently as 2007, Ang Soon Tong was still active, with one of its members sentenced to reformative probation that year for clashing with members of another secret society.


The gang was formed during the early 1960s in the early years of Singapore's Independence when the police force was more relaxed in its enforcement. 369 recruited members mainly in prisons and ex-convicts who wanted to belong to the most powerful gang. Until recently, 369 was a group of the '18' (Chup Pueh Sio Kun Tong in Hokkien) secret society.

It has since declared its independence from the '18' group and has opened its own branches in many parts of Singapore. Places like Tanjong Rhu, Kallang Airport, Teck Whye Lane, Clementi, Tanglin Halt, Mei Ling Street, Joo Seng, Bishan, Thomson, Geylang and places like Yew Tee are the main branches in which many members are recruited.

Member identification
Members of this secret society often tattoo lines of dots called 'tiam' in Hokkien on their foreheads or even five dots on each knuckle on their fingers to identify themselves as 'fighters'. Teardrops on the cheeks are also quite common to signify they have recently lost a 'brother' due to a gang attack or have no more tears to cry, or blood drop below their lips to signify that they won't bleed during a fight.

369 members have been known to dress in a predominantly black outfit and usually taunt rival gang members into a fight with their myriad of gang chants and poems. Gang signs and gang symbols are a few ways gang members use to exhibit their association with this secret society.

Gang violence in Singapore
In the late 1960s and early 1970s, the gang furiously attacked rival gangs and started many turf wars. It also started recruiting many members from the Indian & Malay community after relaxing the only-Chinese rule. It also made profits from the sale of illegal and pirated VCDs, narcotics and prostitution. Attacks on rival gangs such as the '303' gang (Sakongsa in Hokkien), the Omega gang and other independent branches of the '18' group were somewhat of a routine occurrence.

The police cracked down on gang activity in the early 1980s and gang wars came to a screeching halt as many of the leaders were jailed. Many other notorious 'headmen' fled to neighboring countries or were killed in gang attacks. However, in the late 1990s and early dawn of the millennium, the gang gained strength as many of the jailed leaders were released and several of the members had succeeded in scaring off many rival gangs from territories. Gang attacks once again became common and rioting cases shot up.

Cases of murder involving gang attacks and riots were steadily increasing and the police force tightened its noose on the gangs. Singapore's Secret Society Branch dedicated most of its resources to halt the gang violence and managed in netting in a considerable amount of members. Slowly but surely, the gang violence receded and many members were put in prison.

Recent activity
Salakau has predominantly held the territories as mentioned but gang activity has been brought to a standstill as the laws are stricter. The Singapore Police Force has a better understanding of the gang networks and ample resources to stamp out further violence. The gang situation in Singapore has been officially described as 'an unorganized network of street corner gangs with no centralized leaders' and the Secret Societies Branch (SSB) of the Singapore Police Force relentlessly pursues and keeps a staunch vigil against any gang undertones related to any criminal act.

The SSB regularly conducts surprise raids or checks on nightspots and public places known to be gang territories to deter any potential offenders. Anyone found guilty of being a member of an unlawful society may be punished up to a minimum of five years imprisonment and five strokes of the cane. Sentences are usually doubled or even tripled for anyone with significant leadership authority in any unlawful society in Singapore.

The strict laws serve as a deterrent to potential gang members and has successfully decreased the number of gang-related street fights and attacks although gang-related violence occurs sporadically but remain no cause for alarm in the interest of public safety. The most recent case was when '369' gang members launched a premeditated attack with machetes and other weapons against a rival gang outside a 7-11 convenience store at Central Mall which left a 46-year old rival gang member dead.

The culprits have since been arrested and imprisoned due to the swift action of the authorities. Recent cases of fighting in popular nightspots such as Ministry of Sound and Club Momo have been attributed to '369' gang members but the situation remains under control by law enforcement agencies.

Reasons for the decline

In the early 19th century, secret societies posed a significant threat to law and order in Singapore. The early Chinese immigrants' clandestine activities and occasional turf wars proved too much of a problem for the British authorities. The British authorities were therefore obliged to curb the growing problem. They employed a number of methods, both on purpose and not, to check the growth of secret societies. This resulted in the decline of secret societies

Singapore becoming a Crown Colony

The transfer of authority over Singapore from the Indian Government to the colonial office in London is considered by most to be the most important factor that helped the British authority check the growth of secret societies. Elevation of Singapore to a crown Colony meant that London was willing to spend money and resources, and provide proper administrators that it was previously unprepared to do. Thus, Singapore was given a significantly larger priority and only with the transfer of power, could the authorities initiate the following changes.

Legislation of strict laws

The legislation of strict laws had an enormous effect in checking the growth of the secret societies. Two significant laws were passed in the 1860s.

The first was the Peace Preservation Act (also known as the banishment act) of 1867, which gave the colonial government the power to detain and deport Chinese immigrants who were convicted of crime. This was a major weapon against the secret societies members as it created fear and deterred the immigrants from joining the secret societies. With this law, the power of the secret societies was significantly curtailed.

In 1869, The Peace Preservation Act was amended, and the Dangerous Societies Suppression Ordinance was also enacted. This required that secret societies be registered. By requiring only the societies, and not the individual members, to be registered, the police attracted people to go to provide insight on the actual strength of the societies. 10 societies, 618 office bearers and 12371 members were registered in the first round of registrations.

This Ordinance also accorded the colonial government the power to inspect any society that was deemed dangerous to public peace. This way the colonial government could monitor the activities of the secret societies closely. This prevented the Chinese immigrants from joining the secret societies, causing it to reduce in influence in Singapore in the 19th century.

Improvements to police force

In 1843, there were only 133 police personnel. Even if the army of 595 men was brought in, they were still no match for the Chinese Community consisting of 32132 people (most of whom were secret society members). Thomas Dunman, the first Commissioner of Police, wrote that his police force was underpaid and drew salaries lower than the average coolies. By 1865, there were 385 policemen to 50043 Chinese, but the ratio of policemen to Chinese was still too few to be effective. This was compounded by the fact that no one in the police force was qualified to deal with the Chinese.

The officers' posts were held by Europeans while Indians made up the rank and file. No Chinese were employed because of their possible dealings with secret societies. Thus, the police force was ignorant of the language and ways of the Chinese, which was also the most volatile community. So ineffective was the police force that the wealthy had to hire private watchmen and carry personal arms to ensure their own safety.

However, after Singapore became a Crown Colony, large improvements made to the local police force. This was an important factor that helped check the growth of secret societies. The police force started to receive more funding, better equipment and proper training. All these made the police force a much more effective force than it previously was under the East India Company. Even more significant was the hiring of Chinese police officers who could understand and deal with the problems associated with the secret societies.

Establishment of Chinese Protectorate

The establishment of the Chinese Protectorate is yet another factor that led to the societies’ growth being checked. The first Chinese Protector, William Pickering maintained close contact with the Chinese immigrant community, and provided them with assistance. Being fluent in written and spoken Mandarin as well as in various Chinese dialect, Pickering looked after the welfare of the newly arrived coolies, prevented coolie abuse and kept track of the numbers of coolies leaving and arriving.

Pickering also licensed coolie depots. To qualify for a license, the depots required a constant and plentiful supply of water and good ventilation. He also visited the coolies to ask them in person what their connections in Singapore were, making sure they had someone to turn to during their stay.

This establishment of the Chinese Protectorate let the British sustain, for the first time in history, a satisfactory relationship with the Chinese community. Pickering was know affectionately to the Chinese as daiyan (大人), Cantonese for 'great man'. The Protectorate effectively became a legitimate alternative where migrants could come and try solve their problems, putting it forward to the societies for a normally violent conclusion.

It thus helped to deter many new immigrants from increasing the membership of secret societies.


Alfrescian (Inf)

SINGAPORE : The recent spate of attacks on youths by fellow teens is the work of dangerous but disorganised teen gangs, according to experts who work closely with troubled youths.

They say such attacks do not appear to be the work of organised gangs, and a false sense of bravado is driving some to acts of violence.

Wind Chan is the proud owner of a newly—opened pet shop. He recently got engaged, but life has not always been rosy for the 29—year—old.

At the age of 12, he joined a gang operating in Little India.

He said: "I couldn’t study, I couldn’t make friends in school. They were all studying more than me and I couldn’t get any self—worth, so I stepped out of school and joined the (secret) society.

"After that, I had lots of friends who were like me and I was very comfortable."

The law eventually caught up with him and he served time twice.

Wind was released from prison last year after serving six years for gang—related charges. His time in prison served as a wake—up call and Wind was determined to turn his life around.

Now a church worker who deals with troubled youths, Wind said that gangs today are disorganised.

This is unlike the past where gangs abided by certain codes of conduct and were controlled by a headman.

Wind said: "There’s no reason behind it — they just want to fight, want to show (their strength)."

The view is shared by former police officer Lionel de Souza, who gave some reasons why teens pick fights.

Mr de Souza said: "He wants to show that he’s not a ’softie’ — ’I’m a tough guy.’ So if there’s a fight, he will try to be more vicious than the others and it’s like a domino theory — when one becomes vicious, the others will hysterically join in."

Mr de Souza said the community, especially schools, can play a big part in helping youths who are at the fringes.

Following the recent teen gang—related attacks, some are calling for stronger action and more police patrols.

The police say they are working closely with grassroots organisations to address these concerns.

But experts say besides enforcement, the community has a role to play in spotting troubled youths early.

At the upcoming Parliament sitting on November 22, concerns over the recent attacks on youths in Singapore will be raised.

Government Parliamentary Committee Chairman for Law and Home Affairs, Alvin Yeo, said he wants to know if there has been a rise in gang—related activities in Singapore and the steps being taken to curb them.

— CNA/al