15 November 2019
Clifton Ko and his inflammatory post on Facebook. Photos: Facebook, CNSA
Clifton Ko and his inflammatory post on Facebook. Photos: Facebook, CNSA

Film director suggests students set themselves on fire

Hong Kong movie director Clifton Ko Chi-sum lit a firestorm on the internet Tuesday when he posted that students who go on a hunger strike might as well consider setting themselves on fire.

Netizens soon criticized his comment, Apple Daily reported Wednesday, though some supported him.

Ko, who expressed gratitude to the police for suppressing the Occupy movement, said on his Facebook account that if the students want to send a message, there is no faster, more precise and more resolute way than setting themselves on fire.

His comment came after Scholarism leader Joshua Wong Chi-fung announced late Monday that he and two other members of his group would go on an indefinite hunger strike in an attempt to get the government to restart a dialogue with pro-democracy protesters and make the 2017 election for chief executive truly democratic.

Ridiculing the hunger strikers, Ko said: “I may look fat, but I actually fast for 22 hours every day.”

Stanley Cheung Yun-hang, vice-chairman of the Hong Kong Burns Association and a survivor of the Pat Sin Leng hillside fire in 1996, said that from his own experience, recovering from serious burns is a painful process.

Cheung said no one should encourage people to burn themselves, an act that may also injure others.

One netizen warned Ko that section 33B of the Offences Against the Person Ordinance provides that “a person who aids, abets, counsels or procures the suicide of another, or an attempt by another to commit suicide, shall be guilty of an offence triable upon indictment and shall be liable on conviction to imprisonment for 14 years”.

Ko has made more than 30 movies, mostly comedies — ironically, one of his films was titled “The Umbrella Story” — but has not directed any since 2006.

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