Sun Yee On

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Sun Yee On (新義安)
Sun Yee On symbol.png
Founded1919; 100 years ago (1919)
Founding locationBritish Hong Kong
Years active1919–present
TerritoryHong Kong, Mainland China, Japan, France, Russia, South Africa, United Kingdom, India, Thailand, Korea, Colombia, Canada, United States, Australia, Central America
EthnicityHan Chinese
Criminal activitiesracketeering, counterfeiting, extortion, drug trafficking, human trafficking, money laundering, murder, illegal gambling, prostitution
AlliesWo Hop To, Wo On Lok
Rivals14K, Wah Ching, Wo Shing Wo
Sun Yee On
Traditional Chinese新義安
Simplified Chinese新义安

Sun Yee On (Chinese: 新義安), or New Righteousness and Peace Commercial and Industrial Guild, is one of the leading triads[1] in Hong Kong and China. It has more than 55,000 members worldwide.[2] It is also believed to be active in the United Kingdom, the United States, France and Belgium.[2][3]


Sun Yee On was founded by Heung Chin, originally from Teochew (Chaozhou), in 1919.[4] The organisation has been involved in counterfeiting, gambling, narcotics, human trafficking, prostitution, smuggling and extortion[citation needed]. Mainly through ethnic Chinese diaspora, it is thought to extend to the United States, Canada, Thailand, Australia, South Africa and Central America.[5] The founder was deported to Taiwan in the early 1950s and continued to lead the organisation from there.[4] Sun Yee On was allegedly taken over by his eldest son Heung Wah-yim, who ostensibly worked as a law clerk.[4] The triad is also noted as being founded by "Teochew and Hokkien immigrants" to Hong Kong.[6]

Map of countries with branches or operations of the Sun Yee On Triad reported by law enforcement or in the news.

1980s spill[edit]

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.[4] 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.[4] 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.[4] In October, Heung Wah-yim was brought to trial, along with five accomplices who all pleaded guilty.[4] 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.[4] 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.[4]


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.[7]

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.[8][9] 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.[9]

On 22 March 2012, police arrested 102 members of Sun Yee On in Shenzhen, China.[10]

In popular culture[edit]

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 police officer transferred to the HKPD from San Francisco, on a mission 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 involves real people that were part of the Sun Yee On, but with changed names.[citation needed]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Davies, Anthony (25 August 1995). "Asia Week". Retrieved 28 May 2006.
  2. ^ a b "Illuminated Lantern". Retrieved 28 May 2006.
  3. ^ "Transnational Communities Programme". Retrieved 28 May 2006.
  4. ^ a b c d e f g h i Dannen, Fredric (July 1997). "Partners in Crime: Part 2". The New Republic. Archived from the original on 15 February 2013. Retrieved 28 May 2006.
  5. ^ Shanty, Frank; Mishra, Patit Paban Organized crime: from trafficking to terrorism, pg xvi, Volume 2. ISBN 1576073378 ABC-CLIO (24 September 2007)
  6. ^ Bitter power struggle as election looms for Wo On Lok triad, SCMP, 24 February 2013
  7. ^ "'Guru of brothels' busted on $380m laundering rap" Archived 25 November 2010 at the Wayback Machine, The Standard, 22 November 2010
  8. ^ Lee, Diana (13 January 2011). "Brutal slaying seen as triad revenge" Archived 21 October 2013 at the Wayback Machine. The Standard.
  9. ^ a b Lo, Clifford; Cheung, Simpson (19 January 2012). "Forget blood, it's all about the money", South China Morning Post
  10. ^ 100 members of Hong Kong triad arrested in Shenzhen Archived 28 December 2014 at the Wayback Machine, wantchinatimes

External links[edit]