The notorious Bamboo Union gang marked the arrival of spring at the Marriott Hotel Taipei with opulent fanfare. It sparked a public backlash when it recruited nearly 200 young women dressed in traditional qipao to welcome guests to the lavish party.
The authorities responded by stepping up raids on venues and cracking down on gang activity.
The gang’s illegal activities are no secret. Gangs used to keep a low profile and refrained from provoking the authorities, but have become increasingly bold.
The ostentatious spectacle at the hotel has shown their defiance of police authority and utter disregard of what others might think. Despite knowing that thousands of gang members were in the hotel having fun, police were prohibited from entering the premises due to hotel regulations. Instead, they were only allowed to verify guests’ identity at the entrance.
The Bamboo Union exploited the regulations and held the party at a hotel to avoid a police raid.
It is strange that legislation means that those with power often sit behind desks giving orders, while the rights to investigate crime, arrest criminals and search premises require a warrant from a prosecutor or judge. This situation means that police are limited to checking identification, but have to shoulder the blame when something bad happens.
Gangsters have no fear of the police. In 2014, when off-duty detective Hsueh Chen-kuo (薛貞國) said that he was a police officer, he was beaten to death by a mob at the Spark ATT bar in Taipei’s Xinyi District (信義). Those involved got off with a slap on the wrist.
Despite dedicated efforts by police to catch criminals, it is futile when wrongdoers are given light penalties.
How do people expect the police to deter crime under such a system?
A Chinese-language report with the headline “Why gangs are fearless of police” said that if the police had maintained a strict program against violence and drugs, gangsters would not have become so fearless and arrogant.
However, despite endless investigations and raids, and grueling patrols, police are still rebuked.
When police had full authority, they could rein in gang activity, but with societal changes, gangs have forgone ethics and principles and begun to fight over territory and illegal operations, including fraud rings.
They often taunt the police with flamboyant spectacles.
It is unfair to point the finger at the police when there has been no overhaul of the system or legislation.
The police do not fear gangsters, nor would they hold back in a crackdown on criminal activity. The public should throw their support behind the police and advocate a stronger enforcement environment so they can do a better job of maintaining social order.
Mark Chih is a senior police officer.
Translated by Rita Wang
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