18 October 2019
Ted Hui (center), flanked by Democratic Party chairman Wu Chi-wai (R) and partymate James To (L) appears before the media on Wednesday to speak about a controversial incident involving Hui at the Legco complex the previous day. Photo: HKEJ
Ted Hui (center), flanked by Democratic Party chairman Wu Chi-wai (R) and partymate James To (L) appears before the media on Wednesday to speak about a controversial incident involving Hui at the Legco complex the previous day. Photo: HKEJ

Opposition lawmaker under fire over phone-snatching incident

Democratic Party lawmaker Ted Hui Chi-fung has apologized for a phone-snatching incident at the Legislative Council complex, admitting that his behavior was inappropriate.

The apology came after Hui was accused of grabbing the mobile phone of a Security Bureau official and running away with it for a while in the Legco compound on Tuesday.

Hui is said to have seized the phone in order to inspect the contents, as he suspected that the government official was recording the movements of lawmakers and violating their privacy.

According to reports, Hui snatched a phone as well as a document from the hands of a female executive officer of the Security Bureau and dashed off into a men’s toilet as he sought to find out what information the officer had been recording. 

He later returned the phone to another government official after coming out of the toilet.

Facing flak for his action, the opposition lawmaker, who is in his 30s, appeared before the media on Wednesday and acknowledged that he had behaved inappropriately. 

Admitting that he had grabbed the phone of a female executive officer without her consent, Hui offered an apology to the Security Bureau employee.

At the press meet, Hui was accompanied by Democratic Party chairman Wu Chi-wai and fellow party member James To Kun-sun, the Hong Kong Economic Journal reports.

Wu claimed that the party disapproved of Hui’s act. Hui has been ordered to report to the party’s central committee, he said, adding that a disciplinary committee will also follow up on the incident.

Wu also apologized to the officer on behalf of the Democratic Party, and stressed that the party will fully cooperate with the police investigation.

As to whether Hui will be asked to resign from the party, Wu said the matter will be decided by the internal disciplinary committee.

The phone-snatching incident, which has caused a stir at the Legco and enraged the government, took place Tuesday morning when lawmakers were deliberating on the Guangzhou-Shenzhen-Hong Kong Express Rail Link (Co-location) Bill.

According to Hui, he took the phone away from the officer as he suspected the device contained a lot of personal information on lawmakers, in what he felt constituted a breach of the privacy ordinance.

Admitting he did so without the officer’s permission, Hui said he had just wanted to find out for himself what information had been stored in the phone.

Condemning Hui’s act and calling it barbaric, Chief Secretary Matthew Cheung Kion-chung and Secretary for Security John Lee Ka-chiu said on Wednesday that the government was highly concerned about the incident.

The female officer who had faced Hui’s attack was shocked and emotionally perplexed, they said, while stressing that her work did not involve any breach of lawmakers’ privacy.

Lee said it is a matter of concern if his colleagues face hurdles while performing their duties. Everyone’s safety should be protected in the Legco complex, the security chief said, adding that the police will investigate the Hui incident in accordance with the established procedures.

The Central Police Station confirmed that it received a report from a female public servant on Wednesday. After initial investigation, authorities listed the case as “a request for police investigation”.

Legco President Andrew Leung Kwan-yuen, meanwhile, declined to reveal what he saw from CCTV footage in relation to the incident.

Lawmaker Martin Liao Cheung-kong, dubbed as the “class monitor” of the pro-establishment camp, slammed Hui for making an insincere apology.

He revealed that he had sent a letter to the Legco commission, asking it to deal with the incident.

Following the request, the Legco commission held a special meeting Thursday morning. After the meeting, the commission unanimously decided to send a letter to Hui expressing strong condemnation.

Before the meeting, Hui had sent a letter of apology to the Security Bureau employee.

The pro-establishment camp believes Hui may have committed multiple offenses, including robbery, obstructing a public officer in the execution of duty, accessing a computer with dishonest intent, common assault, as well as violation of the Personal Data (Privacy) Ordinance.

Barrister Chris Ng Chung-luen, convenor of the Progressive Lawyers Group, said Hui could be incriminated as long as it can be proved the officer was shocked, no matter if there was physical contact between them in the process.

That said, Ng did not think Hui’s act constituted robbery or theft since he had returned the phone, although the charge of accessing a computer with dishonest intent may stick.

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