The Taiwanese godfather, Hsu Hai-ching (
At a dinner held in his honor at the Sovereign of the Seas restaurant in Taipei, 100 tables overflowed with representatives from underworld gangs and organized crime groups from as far away as Japan.
Although Hsu retired from underworld activity more than 30 years ago, his network of influence was readily apparent in the crowd of wellwishers, whose sartorial taste ran uniformly to black.
They included leaders of the Bamboo Union (
Well-known gangsters from southern Taiwan such as A-Yao (
Among the most visible were representatives of the Japanese crime group Yamaguchi-gumi (山口組).
Hsu was orphaned at a young age and entered gang life in his early teens in order to take care of his younger brother and sister. His slight build and quick hands soon earned him his nickname.
By his early twenties, Hsu had risen to become a gang leader in the Wanhua district of Taipei.
When the KMT retreated to Taiwan, their policy of using Taiwanese to govern Taiwanese led them to nominate Hsu in the elections for the first Taipei City council, despite his purported illiteracy.
Hsu was elected by a large margin, and although a dislike of politics led him to serve only one term in office, his political career enhanced his influence in his various enterprises, legitimate and otherwise.
By the 1950s, Hsu had become a tycoon of the "entertainment" industry, running numerous gambling parlors and hostess bars in the Wanhua district, where he also ran some general stores.
Hsu is also well-known in gang circles as a master arbitrator, having negotiated many underworld disputes.
He is particularly known for settling a bloody feud between two Kaohsiung gangs, the Seven Sages (七賢) and the Sandy Ground (沙仔地), thereby earning his other nickname, "the last arbitrator."
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