Family, Meaning of Life, Relationships

He was a triad leader who crossed the world to kill the man entangled with his girlfriend …. until a miracle stopped him

By Janice Tai , 16 October 2023

Choby Siau was the right-hand man of a triad boss in Penang.

In Part One of his story, he was involved in a machete attack, a drug overdose, and a horrific car accident – over three consecutive days.

This is his backstory:

As a child of missionaries, Choby Siau’s grew up in many different countries – Singapore, Taiwan, California, New Zealand and Malaysia. 

He had severe dyslexia and couldn’t read, write or do Maths. He also had a speech impediment which made communicating a challenge.

Choby’s school teachers put him in a special education class. He had only two classmates – one was deaf and the other was blind.

Choby Siau

Choby with a brother and their Chinese Singaporean father and Polish American mother.

His dyslexia was so bad that during an exam, he needed a teacher or parent to read each sentence to him.

When Choby showed his first report card to his father, he was beaten. 

“My dad had an anger problem and he was the most violent person that I knew when I was growing up,” said Choby, now 36.

Choby Siau

Young Choby (far right) with his siblings.

“It was very hard for me to understand what was going on as I put in a lot of effort in school.

“Yet when I opened up a book, I couldn’t tell what it was saying” said Choby, who associated education with anxiety.

His first gang

When Choby was 11, his family moved to New Zealand.

Even as his teacher introduced him, he could hear the racial slurs.

From grappling with culture shock to being bullied in school, from dealing with learning difficulties to problems at home, Choby felt exposed and vulnerable.

Choby’s family lived in one of these units in Mangere, Auckland.

When the kids in school started bullying his younger brother, Choby fought back with his fists.

Choby Siau

Choby and his younger brother in New Zealand. Even though grew up in a Christian home, Choby felt that God was far from him. “Perhaps it was because I was distant from my father. So it was very hard for me to conceive that God loves me,” Choby.

His opponents backed off. And over time, they even became friends. And so Choby had his first “gang”.

But a year-and-a-half later, his family uprooted again because of his parents’ work.

Joining the triad at age 13

Soon after they moved to Penang, 13-year-old Choby got into a fight.

His older brother, who was involved with a local triad, brought his gang members along to make sure it did not get out of hand.

Choby Siau

Choby (left) with his older brother who joined a secret society in Penang before Choby did.

When the fight was over, the gang members recruited Choby to join the triad. 

Choby was expelled from his school in Penang. It was also in front of this school that the secret society recruited him.

The triad had 2,000 members and was involved in prostitution, extortion, drug dealing and white-collar crime. 

By Secondary 2, Choby was expelled from school.

“I didn’t have a future in school. The triad offered me protection and covering. That was exactly what I wanted because I felt so unprotected at home and in school. I saw protection as love,” said Choby.

Choby with a fellow secret society member.

Over time, Choby gained favour with his dai lou (triad boss) and was groomed to be his right-hand man.

Whenever leaders of other groups had “business issues”, they would call on Choby’s group to intimidate or exert violence. 

Thirst for revenge 

As Choby was groomed as a key triad leader, his mother had a sense from God that he would be killed if the family remained in Malaysia. So she got the family to pack up for the United States.

“I thought she was crazy as I didn’t think that God could speak to you like that,” said Choby.

“I thought she was crazy as I didn’t think that God could speak to you like that.”

“Furious, I took a metal pole and smashed up all the furniture in my room.”

More than 20 his friends came to the airport to send Choby off. Among them was a childhood friend who wasn’t involved with gangs. This friend gave him a small New Testament Bible as a farewell present. 

Choby assumed that he would be flying back frequently to Penang to help with triad operations.

Shortly after arriving in the US, Choy suspected that his girlfriend back in Penang was cheating on him. So he called up his dai lou to help investigate.

Choby Siau

Choby and his former dai lou (triad boss).

It turned out that Choby was right: Choby’s girlfriend was sleeping with a member from another triad.

“I just lost it,” said Choby.

“It doesn’t matter which triad you are from, you can never take a girl from a triad member. That’s breaking the law.

“I actually fought this guy before so maybe he was doing it out of spite,” said Choby.

Consumed with bitterness, jealousy and anger, Choby planned to kill the man and leave his body in the jungle.

Falling apart

At the same time, Choby was aware that his life that he had built was crumbling.

“Rising up the ranks of the triad suddenly seemed purposeless. I started questioning life as I knew it.

“Even my plan of living with my girlfriend was falling apart.

“I also hated myself for my learning difficulties.”

In addition, Choby was fed up by paralysis that tormented him while he slept.

“I would slip out of my body and find myself looking at my sleeping body and the surrounding furniture. I would also be able to see the spirit world of demons. It was terrifying,” he said.

His mum’s plea

When Choby left home to fly back to Penang, his mother feared it would be the last time she would see him.

Crying, she told Choby: “I prayed to God that He would do whatever it takes to bring you to Him.”’

His mum feared it would be the last time she would see him.

Shaken, Choby took along his Bible “for good luck”, and in desperation, opened it on the plane.

“As I was flipping through its pages, these words popped up: In three days I will heal you.”

Choby had never been able to read a whole sentence in his life before. He knew it was a miracle.

He prayed: “God, if in three days you take away my anger for this guy, I will let him go.”

“It was like the betrayal never happened”

Indeed three days later, Choby was astonished to find that he was no longer angry. 

“It was as though I had never loved that girl or as though the betrayal had never happened.”

“There was peace in my heart.

“It was as though I had never loved that girl or as though the betrayal had never happened.”

And so Choby abandoned his plot for revenge.

“There is no way to explain it except to call it a miracle,” he said.

Choby knew that God had power to work in his life.

But because of his secret society ties, he was still not ready to give his heart fully to God …  until a machete attack, a drug overdose and a horrific car accident over three consecutive days convinced him.

Read more here:

After a machete attack, a drug overdose and a car accident, a gangster turned his life over to a new “Dai Lou”

This is an excerpt of an article that first appeared in Salt&Light.


A gang member at 8 and secret society boss at 16, he is now a different kind of leader

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