Hsieh Chia Jên

The leaders of Shan Fan certainly know how to please an audience of exhausted miners desperate for entertainment. They allow a man plenty of leeway. It doesn’t matter here what you smoke or drink, or if you choose to sock one of your fellow miners in the jaw. On the other hand, when the property or person of a triad member in good standing is threatened, you can be sure that the Hsieh Chia Jên will hammer down the offending party like a crooked nail.

The triad is set up as follows. First, there’s the Big Boss. Reporting to the Big Boss are a number of Big Brothers, about six or seven of them. Each of the Big Brothers runs a gang of thugs, known as “rascals.” (The term loses something in translation from Cantonese.)

Each Big Brother controls a section of the city. His rascals collect the triad’s cut of all activities in the area, kind of like tax collectors. They turn the dough over to Big Brother, who keeps part and gives the rest to the Big Boss.

This is where the killing comes in. If a Big Brother can’t protect his turf from his neighbor’s rascals, he loses face. And for a triad gangster losing face is the beginning of the end. First other men’s rascals are rude to him. Then his own rascals are shot down in the street. Next thing he knows Big Brother is face-down in a plate of noodles, a blade in his back.

Ready for the Big Time

Moving up in the organization is a risky proposition. The current Big Boss knocked off the old one. He was a Big Brother at the time. He had the support of a couple other Big Brothers, and together they had enough rascals to scare the other Big Brothers into going along with him.

Likewise, sometimes a Big Brother gets knocked off by one of his own rascals seeking to take his place. Sometimes the other Big Brothers admire such a man’s initiative. Other times, they have him drawn and quartered and then stick his head on a pike outside the city limits as an example to others.

It’s all a matter of politics and making sure you have enough allies to back you when you show your hand. These things get pretty subtle.

The Current head boss is Big Ears Tam

Hsieh Chia Jên

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