23 October 2016
Former customs officer Mike Lam (left inset) took part in a protest in Sha Tin (right inset) against parallel traders. Photos: Google Maps, Apple Daily
Former customs officer Mike Lam (left inset) took part in a protest in Sha Tin (right inset) against parallel traders. Photos: Google Maps, Apple Daily

Ex-customs inspector: I was sacked for speaking out for justice

A former probationary customs officer said he was sacked for speaking out for justice, Apple Daily reported Wednesday.

Mike Lam, 27, was at first suspended from his job in October because the Customs and Excise Department considered a post by him on Facebook “inappropriate”.

In the post, Lam said that as a customs officer, he would do a good job of checking on travelers suspected of being parallel traders — especially those who appeared to be disabled, elderly or women traveling with babies.

Lam said he knew some of his colleagues had been refraining from doing so to save the trouble and paperwork.

In one case, when Lam was suspicious of a woman with a baby stroller, he said one of his colleagues tried to stop him from confronting her, advising him not to create any trouble. 

Lam went ahead anyway and searched the stroller.

He found cigarettes in it that the woman was trying to smuggle through customs.

Lam suspected that his Facebook post was just being used as an excuse to terminate his employment and that the real reason was his participation in the Occupy protests late last year and an anti-parallel-trading campaign in Sha Tin early this year.

He said he was identified as a probationary customs employee during a television interview in February when he joined the campaign in Sha Tin.

Some pro-establishment netizens filed complaints against him, and he was placed under internal investigation in March.

During the probe, he was thoroughly questioned about Facebook posts showing his supportive stance on the pro-democracy and anti-parallel-trading movements, Lam said.

He claimed that Lin Shun-yin, the customs department’s assistant commissioner of administration and human resource development, tried to prevent the Hong Kong Chinese Civil Servants’ Association from providing him with any assistance while he was suspended from his job.

A few days ago, Lam received a letter terminating his employment.

Lam said the department fired him before the end of his probation period, citing civil service regulations without giving detailed reasons.

He said his sacking was totally groundless.

Lam is seeking help from the Labor Department, saying he is still undergoing rehabilitation from a work injury sustained earlier and that therefore, under the law, the department has no right to fire him.

He stressed that he will continue to insist on doing what he believes to be the right thing.

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