revolutionary crusaders and took up the cause of overthrowing the Manchu Dynasty. It
adopted the slogan “Drive out the Ching Dynasty. Restore the Ming”. Under the Manchus it
became a prosecuted organisation but despite Manchu suppression, th
e League’s numerical
strength increased enormously expanding to the provinces of Kwantung and Fukien fromwhich the majority of the immigrant Chinese in Malaya were derived.The Hung League supported the revolutionary efforts of Dr. Sun Yat Sen in the finaloverthrow of the Manchu regime. Nevertheless, the Hung League did not associate itself with any political party after the 1911 Revolution but persisted independently and retainedmuch of its revolutionary ideals in its ceremonial triad rituals. The ramifications of the HungLeague were never totally confined to China. The Hung League spread to many of thecountries outside China with the migrational tide of the Chinese. They took with them therituals and ceremonies to countries in Southeast Asia, India, Australia and Britain. Their
primary aim initially was to acquire hegemony over the Chinese communities in thesecountries.It was inevitable that once the Hung League was transplanted to overseas countries, it lostits political significance and degenerated into an organisational machine for the oppressionand extortion of the Chinese communities. Its existence was sustained by its powerfularmour of secrecy, its ritualistic traditions and reinforced by its imposition of the deathpenalty to protect itself against treachery from within and interference from without. Itsactivities inevitably generated violence and turbulence which became a matter of muchconcern to the ruling authorities.In colonial Malaya, when the Hung League was transplanted, it became known as the GheeHin Society. The principal lodge was in Singapore while the subsidiary lodges wereestablished in Penang, Malacca and the Federated Malay States. The influx of the Chinese inmid 19
century also brought with them lodges other than the Hung League, one of whichwas the Ko Lao Hoey. The lodges, in general, settled disputes by arbitration betweenmembers in any dispute between members of different societies. Each society or lodgecontrolled its particular area on the pretext of affording protection but in reality committedcriminal violence with impunity. Riots and large scale fights frequently occurred when
societies encroached on each others’ preserves.
The Penang Riots of 1867 between theGhee Hin and the Toh Peh Kong was one such example that reached severe proportions. Itlasted for ten days during which period the contending parties obtained reinforcements fromthe mainland. Buildings were burnt and hundreds either perished or injured. The severity of the clashes attracted the attention of the ruling British authorities and in 1890 the societieswere required by law to dissolve and societies that practised triad rituals were declaredunlawful. Nevertheless the Ghee Hin and the other lodges continued illegally but throughvigilance and pressure by the authorities they had for the most part degenerated intohooligan gangs which continued to use the jargons and symbolic rituals of the triads.
Resurgence in October 1945: The Ang Bin Hoey in Penang
It was known that the prevailing chaotic political and economic situation that followed theJapanese surrender in 1945 provided an impetus to the recrudesence of triad activities inMalaya. Penang, in this connection, was the centre for the resurgence of triads under thename of Ang Bin Hoey (ABH). Under the impression that all societies whether triad orotherwise were allowed to operate, the ABH functioned as a society openly. According topolice records, the ABH was purported to have been formed by a Phillipine-born ChineseHokkien by the name of Teoh Teik Chye, a small businessman. Its original headquarterswas located in Sandilands Street and founded in October 1945. The founding of the ABH