Years active 1919 – present
Membership 55,000 – 60,000+
|Founding location Hong Kong|
Ethnicity Han Chinese
|Territory Hong Kong, Mainland China, United Kingdom, Belgium, France, Netherlands, United States, Thailand, Canada, Australia, Central America|
Sun Yee On, or New Righteousness and Peace Commercial and Industrial Guild, is one of the leading triads in Hong Kong and China. It has more than 55,000 members worldwide. It is also believed to be active in the United Kingdom, the United States, France, Belgium and the Netherlands.
Sun Yee On was founded by Heung Chin, originally from Teochew (Chaozhou), in 1919. The organisation is involved in counterfeiting, gambling, narcotics, human trafficking, prostitution, smuggling and extortion. Mainly through ethnic Chinese diaspora, it is thought to extend to the United States, Canada, Thailand, Australia and Central America. The founder was deported to Taiwan in the early 1950s and continued to lead the organisation from there. Sun Yee On was allegedly taken over by his eldest son Heung Wah-yim, who ostensibly worked as a law clerk. The triad is also noted as being founded by "Teochew and Hokkien immigrants" to Hong Kong.
In February 1986, a former Hong Kong police officer, Anthony Chung, who had become a member of Sun Yee On, asked the police for protection. He identified Heung Wah-yim as the leader of the triad and this led to the police arresting eleven members of the Triad on 1 April 1987. Whilst searching Heung Wah-yim's law office they found a list of 900 numbered names which appeared to be a membership list of Sun Yee On. In October Heung Wah-yim was brought to trial, along with five accomplices who all pleaded guilty. Heung Wah-yim professed his innocence throughout the trial, claiming to be the president of a local chapter of the Lions Club and that the list found in his office consisted of potential donors. Chung and another former member were the main prosecution witnesses. On 20 January 1988 the jury found five of the defendants guilty, including Heung Wah-yim who was sentenced to seven and a half years in prison, acquitting the sixth.
The triad operates several vice establishments in Tsim Sha Tsui and Yau Ma Tei, or at least did in November 2010 when a 29-year-old alleged office-bearer or "red pole" of the triad, named "Sai B" Chan, was arrested for vice offences and money laundering.
Lee Tai-lung Lee, a Sun Yee On boss in Tsim Sha Tsui, was murdered in front of the Kowloon Shangri-La hotel on 4 August 2009 by members of the Wo Shing Wo gang. It was supposedly a revenge attack ordered by Leung Kwok-chung, a senior member of a Wo Shing Wo crew in Tai Kok Tsui who was injured by Lee during a bar fight in July 2006 in Prat Avenue. Following Lee's death, three of his former followers stepped in to defend his lucrative entertainment empire from other triads. In 2011(?), Lee's three followers were tracked by 'Ko Tat', another 'red pole fighter' in Wan Chai, who failed to spread his influence across the harbour. Tai Hau, leader of another Sun Yee On faction active in Tuen Mun tried to encroach upon Lee's West Kowloon and Tsim Sha Tsui operations. His attempts were thwarted by an undercover police operation, as a result of which 222 people were arrested in January 2012. The Organised Crime and Triad Bureau suspects that 'Ko Chun' may be the latest kingpin of Lee's original turf.
On 22 March 2012, police arrested 102 members of Sun Yee on in Shenzhen, China.
In popular culture
The 2012 video game Sleeping Dogs, set in Hong Kong, focuses on the Chinese Triads from the perspective of an undercover detective. In Sleeping Dogs the player plays as Wei Shen, an undercover cop from San Francisco, on a mission in Hong Kong to infiltrate the organised crime lords of the notorious "Sun on Yee". The name of the Triad "Sun on Yee" is a switch of words for the Sun Yee On. Most of the story of Sleeping Dogs involve real people involved with the Sun Yee On that are portrayed as the same people but with different names.