Triad related homicide in Hong Kong : 1989-1998
Abstract of the thesis entitled Triad related homicide in Hong Kong: 1989-1998
Lee King Wa
For the degree of Doctor of Philosophy
at the University of Hong Kong
in December 2004
This thesis addresses systematically the diverse nature and role of lethal violence among Triads (Chinese criminal fraternities) in Hong Kong. Data is drawn from a comprehensive archive collected from the Hong Kong Coroner's Court and Hong Kong Police Criminal Records Bureau. A detailed analysis of 95 Triad related homicide cases (124 victims) found amongst all 805 recorded homicide cases in Hong Kong (HK) between 1989-1998 is undertaken. Amongst Triad related homicides 11.5% involved firearms and 14.6% illegal drugs - considerably lower than reported in other studies of gang violence. Both victims and offenders involved in Triad related homicides were found to have an earlier age of onset and more serious conviction histories than non-Triad homicide participants. Contingency table analysis of variables measuring the role of routine activity factors (i.e. time, place and number of offenders) was able to clearly distinguish Triad related homicide from other homicides. A series of logistic regression analysis established the significance of other variables (i.e. number of offenders, male victims, revenge and money motives) and a multivariate model correctly predicted 90.4% of Triad lethal events and 80%) of non-triad events.
Despite its mythic and patriotic origins Triads appear to be functional self-help and cross-generational groups formed and maintained by conflicts in the context of a subculture that neutralizes the use of violence. Triads are often equated with the Sicilian Mafia and other organized crime groups in terms of their organizational capability
and profit-orientation and thus it is assumed that Triad lethal violence should arise in the service of rational or business-like purposes.
An integrated theoretical model of Triad organizational forms and related homicide drawing on routine activity (choice), sub-culture and, the concepts of symbiosis and commensalism (cf. Hawleyl950) is formulated. The model explains the nexus between Triad gang and organized crime. Thus Triads are perceived as 'categoric' groups serving the specific function of providing violence to 'corporate' networks of organized crime. The routine activity approach also connects homicide victimization and offending patterns to the sub-cultural lifestyle of Triad members and to the exercise of limited choice that facilitates 'drift'. Although, non-lethal violence appears commonplace, lethal violence is rare, but Triad members have a much higher risk of homicide than others.
Five types of Triad related homicide are subsequently theorized and case analysis including modus operandi was applied to classify all 95 events with the following results: 7.5% in type A - internal discipline by 'corporate' style syndicates; 6.4% in type B - internal discipline by a 'categoric' Triad group; 16.3% in type C -competition between illegal entrepreneurs, syndicates, or Triad leaders; 23.0% in type D - discipline of customers of illegal services and goods; and 49.4% in type E - 'turf war' or status and honor contests. Thus more than half of Triad related homicides were not enterprise or profit motivated (e.g. rational or instrumental) but arose from sub-cultural Triad status and reputation/honour contests, or turf-war more associated with notions of expressive motives (emotional or non-rational). The analysis demonstrates that although violence is essential to Triads its deployment by 'corporate criminal syndicates' is risk aversive but at the 'categoric gang' level it is primarily status or reputation driven. (527 words)
School:The University of Hong Kong
School Location:China - Hong Kong SAR
Source Type:Master's Thesis
Keywords:homicide china hong kong tongs secret societies gangs
Date of Publication:01/01/2005