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."

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
Life and Style
Baroness Lane-Fox warned that large companies such as have become so powerful that governments and regulators are left behind
techTech giants have left governments and regulators behind
News
Keith Fraser says we should give Isis sympathises free flights to join Isis (AFP)
news
Life and Style
'Prison Architect' players decide the fate of inmates
tech
Life and Style
A picture taken on February 11, 2014 at people walking at sunrise on the Trocadero Esplanade, also known as the Parvis des droits de l'homme (Parvis of Human Rights), in front of the Eiffel Tower in Paris.
techGoogle celebrates Paris's iconic landmark, which opened to the public 126 years ago today
News
Cleopatra the tortoise suffers from a painful disease that causes her shell to disintegrate; her new prosthetic one has been custom-made for her using 3D printing technology
newsCleopatra had been suffering from 'pyramiding'
News
people
Arts and Entertainment
Coachella and Lollapalooza festivals have both listed the selfie stick devices as “prohibited items”
music
Sport
Nigel Owens was targeted on Twitter because of his sexuality during the Six Nations finale between England and France earlier this month
rugbyReferee Nigel Owens on coming out, and homophobic Twitter abuse
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

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

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: PPC Executive - Manchester City Centre

£23000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This forward-thinking agency wo...

Recruitment Genius: Artwork Design Apprenticeship

£7200 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An Artwork Design Apprenticeship is avail...

Recruitment Genius: PHP Web Developer

£25000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This web design and digital age...

Recruitment Genius: Senior Web Designer / Front End Developer

£28000 - £32000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This fast expanding web managem...

Day In a Page

No postcode? No vote

Floating voters

How living on a houseboat meant I didn't officially 'exist'
Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin

By Reason of Insanity

Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin
Power dressing is back – but no shoulderpads!

Power dressing is back

But banish all thoughts of Eighties shoulderpads
Spanish stone-age cave paintings 'under threat' after being re-opened to the public

Spanish stone-age cave paintings in Altamira 'under threat'

Caves were re-opened to the public
'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'

Vince Cable interview

'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'
Election 2015: How many of the Government's coalition agreement promises have been kept?

Promises, promises

But how many coalition agreement pledges have been kept?
The Gaza fisherman who built his own reef - and was shot dead there by an Israeli gunboat

The death of a Gaza fisherman

He built his own reef, and was fatally shot there by an Israeli gunboat
Saudi Arabia's airstrikes in Yemen are fuelling the Gulf's fire

Saudi airstrikes are fuelling the Gulf's fire

Arab intervention in Yemen risks entrenching Sunni-Shia divide and handing a victory to Isis, says Patrick Cockburn
Zayn Malik's departure from One Direction shows the perils of fame in the age of social media

The only direction Zayn could go

We wince at the anguish of One Direction's fans, but Malik's departure shows the perils of fame in the age of social media
Young Magician of the Year 2015: Meet the schoolgirl from Newcastle who has her heart set on being the competition's first female winner

Spells like teen spirit

A 16-year-old from Newcastle has set her heart on being the first female to win Young Magician of the Year. Jonathan Owen meets her
Jonathan Anderson: If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

British designer Jonathan Anderson is putting his stamp on venerable house Loewe
Number plates scheme could provide a licence to offend in the land of the free

Licence to offend in the land of the free

Cash-strapped states have hit on a way of making money out of drivers that may be in collision with the First Amendment, says Rupert Cornwell
From farm to fork: Meet the Cornish fishermen, vegetable-growers and butchers causing a stir in London's top restaurants

From farm to fork in Cornwall

One man is bringing together Cornwall's most accomplished growers, fishermen and butchers with London's best chefs to put the finest, freshest produce on the plates of some of the country’s best restaurants
Robert Parker interview: The world's top wine critic on tasting 10,000 bottles a year, absurd drinking notes and New World wannabes

Robert Parker interview

The world's top wine critic on tasting 10,000 bottles a year, absurd drinking notes and New World wannabes
Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

We exaggerate regional traits and turn them into jokes - and those on the receiving end are in on it too, says DJ Taylor