Sydney triads bring terror to restaurants

The assault was swift and brutal. As a quiet weekday evening drew to a close, four young men armed with hammers and tomahawks burst into the Superbowl Seafood Steamboat Restaurant in the heart of Sydney's Chinatown. Diners watched in horror as they wrecked windows and fish tanks, grabbing live lobsters and smashing them on the ground.

The assault was swift and brutal. As a quiet weekday evening drew to a close, four young men armed with hammers and tomahawks burst into the Superbowl Seafood Steamboat Restaurant in the heart of Sydney's Chinatown. Diners watched in horror as they wrecked windows and fish tanks, grabbing live lobsters and smashing them on the ground.

Minutes earlier, similar scenes had played out at two adjoining restaurants in nearby Dixon Street, a bustling pedestrian mall flanked by ornate archways. At both the Superbowl and Y2K Café, the clatter of cutlery was replaced by screams and breaking glass as windows, mirrors, aquariums and pastry cabinets were destroyed.

Four Chinatown establishments were targeted during last week's rampage, which the community believes was sparked by a turf war between rival triad gangs. Police pledged zero tolerance; 24 hours later, another restaurant – this time on Sydney's leafy North Shore – was attacked, with three Molotov cocktails hurled at its windows.

Police are studying video surveillance footage of the incidents, but community leaders are convinced they represent the latest phase of an escalating battle between two criminal gangs – Sing Wa and Big Circle – for control of a lucrative restaurant extortion racket.

The violence had apparently been brewing for weeks, with the smaller Big Circle gang determined to expand its territory and intimidate local businesses. Stanley Yee, owner of the Emperor's Garden BBQ and Noodle Restaurant, said: "I've been in Chinatown for 40 years and I've never seen anything like this."

The firebombing of the Sea Treasure Restaurant in Crows Nest the following day may have been carried out by Sing Wa members in retaliation. The Sea Treasure organised a Chinese New Year banquet for a convicted political assassin, Phuong Ngo, at a Sydney jail this year.

One restaurant manager in Chinatown said staff had received repeated demands for protection money. "They're trying to scare people," he said.

A New South Wales state MP, Peter Wong, believes the violence may reflect a generational change in Chinatown, where scores of restaurants, supermarkets and video stores are crammed into a few city blocks. "In the past, Chinese business owners paid protection money as a matter of course," he said. "But the younger generation is more reluctant, and that may be part of the problem."

Members of both gangs originate in mainland China, with Sing Wa boasting 1,000 followers across Sydney and Blue Circle about 100. Sing Wa loyalists favour white baseball caps, while Blue Circle gangsters are often seen sucking on blue straws. There have been several brawls between them in Chinatown karaoke bars. Tattoos between the fingers are said to be a distinguishing feature of both gangs, as are self-inflicted cigarette burns. Machetes, knives and guns are the weapons of choice.

The rampage last week, which came two days after a high-profile patrol through Chinatown by 100 officers, has also been interpreted as cocking a snook at police. Detectives are investigating a possible link with a fight in a nearby shopping centre earlier that day in which one man was slashed with a meat cleaver. Police have mounted round-the-clock foot patrols in Chinatown to prevent further violence.

The New South Wales police minister, Michael Costa, complained that officers had met a "wall of silence", but Dr Richard Basham, of Sydney University, said they did not understand the problem. "Australian police and Chinese citizens are walking the same streets, but living in two different worlds," he said. "Police can only see external issues. They can't see what's going on behind the scenes, and they just don't get it."

VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition iPad app?
News
weird news... and film it, obviously
Arts & Entertainment
tv
News
Matthew Mcnulty and Jessica Brown Findlay in 'Jamaica Inn'
mediaHundreds complain over dialogue levels in period drama
News
peopleJay Z and Beyoncé to buy £5.5m London townhouse
Voices
voicesMoyes' tragedy is one the Deputy PM understands all too well, says Matthew Norman
Arts & Entertainment
Rocker of ages: Chuck Berry
musicWhy do musicians play into old age?
Arts & Entertainment
With Jo Joyner in 'Trying Again'
tvHe talks to Alice Jones on swapping politics for pillow talk
News
Jilly's jewels: gardener Alan Titchmarsh
peopleCountry Life magazine's list of 'gallant' public figures throws light on what it means to be a gentleman in the modern world
Sport
John Terry goes down injured in the 70th minute
sportAtletico Madrid 0 Chelsea 0: Blues can finish the job at Stamford Bridge, but injuries to Terry and Cech are a concern for Mourinho
Student
student
News
<b>Rebecca Adlington</b>
<br />This, the first British swimmer to win two
Olympic gold medals in 100 years, is the eversmiling
face of the athletes who will, we're
confident, make us all proud at London 2012
peopleRebecca Adlington on 'nose surgery'
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition iPad app?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Clinical Negligence

Very Competitive: Austen Lloyd: Clinical Negligence - Oxford An opportunity f...

Projects Financial Analyst - Global Technology firm

£55000 - £62000 per annum + outstanding benefits and bonus: Pro-Recruitment Gr...

Reception Teacher

£120 per day: Randstad Education Luton: Reception teacher required for an Outs...

Commercial B2B Pricing Specialist - Global Bids and Tenders

£35000 - £45000 per annum + excellent company benefits : Pro-Recruitment Group...

Day In a Page

Brits who migrate to Costa del Sol more unhappy than those who stay at home

It's not always fun in the sun: Moving abroad does not guarantee happiness

Brits who migrate to Costa del Sol more unhappy than those who stay at home
Migrants in Britain a decade on: They came, they worked, they stayed in Lincolnshire

Migrants in Britain a decade on

They came, they worked, they stayed in Lincolnshire
Chris Addison on swapping politics for pillow talk

Chris Addison on swapping politics for pillow talk

The 'Thick of It' favourite thinks the romcom is an 'awful genre'. So why is he happy with a starring role in Sky Living's new Lake District-set series 'Trying Again'?
Why musicians play into their old age

Why musicians play into their old age

Nick Hasted looks at how they are driven by a burning desire to keep on entertaining fans despite risking ridicule
How can you tell a gentleman?

How can you tell a gentleman?

A list of public figures with gallant attributes by Country Life magazine throws a fascinating light on what it means to be a gentleman in the modern world
Pet a porter: posh pet pampering

Pet a porter: posh pet pampering

The duo behind Asos and Achica have launched a new venture offering haute couture to help make furry companions fashionable
A History of the First World War in 100 moments: The mutiny that sent a ripple of fear through the Empire

A History of the First World War in 100 moments

The mutiny that sent a ripple of fear through the Empire
Hot stuff: 10 best kettles

Hot stuff: 10 best kettles

Celebrate St George’s Day with a nice cup of tea. Now you just need to get the water boiled
Sam Wallace: Why Giggs is perfect fit as Manchester United boss... in the longer term

Sam Wallace

Why Ryan Giggs is perfect fit as Manchester United boss... in the longer term
Renaud Lavillenie: The sky's the limit for this pole vaulter's ambitions

Renaud Lavillenie: The sky's the limit for this pole vaulter's ambitions

Having smashed Sergei Bubka's 21-year-old record, the French phenomenon tells Simon Turnbull he can go higher
Through the screen: British Pathé opens its archives

Through the screen

British Pathé opens its archives
The man behind the papier mâché mask

Frank Sidebottom

The man behind the papier mâché mask
Chris Marker: Mystic film-maker with a Midas touch

Mystic film-maker with a Midas touch

Chris Marker retrospective is a revelation
Boston runs again: Thousands take to the streets for marathon as city honours dead and injured of last year's bombing

Boston runs again

Thousands of runners take to the streets as city honours dead of last year
40 years of fostering and still holding the babies (and with no plans to retire)

40 years of fostering and holding the babies

In their seventies and still working as specialist foster parents