Four men were charged in court yesterday over their alleged involvement in unlawful societies. This follows videos that went online earlier this year, depicting groups of people shouting gang slogans at funeral processions.
Chay Wen Fu, 18, and Yu Teck Hoon, 42, are suspected to be members of Hai Lok San, while Abdul Ghani Mustaffa, 55, and Adam Malik Bahtiar, 50, are suspected to be members of Sio Kun Tong. The gang "Hai Lok San" is part of the "108" secret society and "Sio Kun Tong" is part of the "18" secret society.
The term "sio kun tong" was previously associated with Chinese clans, while "hai lok san" refers to "sea, land and mountains" or "omnipresent". The group "18" refers to the 18 arhats, or esteemed beings, in Buddhist folklore.
Under the Societies Act, it is illegal to join or act as a member of an unlawful society. It is also illegal to attend a meeting of an unlawful society.
Abdul Ghani and Yu face three charges each, Adam Malik faces two charges, while Chay faces one charge. The charges relate to their alleged membership of an "unlawful society".
Police arrested the four men in March, the same month the clips surfaced online.
On March 2, a 49-second clip showed men chanting "sah lak kau" - "369" in Hokkien - near Kim Tian Road at the funeral of a 55-year-old warehouse assistant nicknamed Guni. The slogan is synonymous with the Sio Kun Tong gang.
The clip, shared on Facebook, garnered more than 58,000 views in three days.
Several days later, another clip surfaced online, showing a large group of men repeatedly chanting "hai lok san" while walking down a road during a funeral procession.
Police arrested 14 suspects for gang-related activities in connection with the two video clips - seven people for each clip. Among them were the four charged yesterday.
Investigations for the remaining 10 people are still ongoing.
Yu, who intends to plead guilty, will appear again in court on Dec 6, while Chay's case will be heard on Dec 15. Both men are not represented by lawyers.
Adam Malik's and Abdul Ghani's cases have been adjourned for further mention on Dec 21. Adam Malik is represented by law firm Kannan SG, and Abdul Ghani by Withers KhattarWong.
If convicted, the men each face a fine not exceeding $5,000 or a jail term of up to three years, or both.
Correction note: An earlier version of this story made an incorrect reference to the group the gangs are part of. This has now been corrected. We are sorry for the error.