HKBU student leader released unconditionally after 46 hours

August 09, 2019 15:20
HKBU student union president Keith Fong was released unconditionally on Thursday. He was arrested by police on Tuesday for possession of "offensive weapons". Photo: Internet

Keith Fong Chung-yin, president of the Hong Kong Baptist University (HKBU) Students’ Union, has been released unconditionally after police came under fire for arresting him for possessing laser pointers.

Fong was scheduled to hold a media conference on Friday afternoon, but it was called off in the morning as he was still sick.

Fong, who is majoring in European Studies (French Stream), was accosted by several off-duty police officers in Sham Shui Po on Tuesday night. The officers found 10 laser pointers in a plastic bag he was carrying.

Video footage circulating on social media showed Fong telling officers several times at the scene that the laser pens were for star-gazing, but the officers still arrested him for possessing "offensive weapons".

The arrest sparked a strong backlash from students at HKBU and other tertiary institutions, who condemned the police for indiscriminately arresting innocent people.

The Police Public Relations Branch (PPRB) on Thursday revealed they freed Fong after he refused bail conditions, adding that police still reserved the right to prosecute him, the Hong Kong Economic Journal reports.

Police also admitted in its daily press briefing on Thursday that the laser pointers found in Fong’s bag when he was arrested were in fact not equipped with batteries, which were only put in the devices to demonstrate their capability to hurt people during a press conference on Wednesday.

Asked in the media briefing if the way they handled the laser pens constituted tampering with evidence, police said they handled the exhibits in accordance with standard procedures, adding that they were awaiting forensic reports to determine the actual power of the seized laser pointers.

On Thursday, the PPRB said that personnel from the Police Organised Crime and Triad Bureau, after informing Fong and his lawyer, conducted a search of his flat in Sai Kung between 5:30 p.m. and 5:55 p.m. The lawyer and Fong's mother witnessed the search.

The HKBU Students’ Union said Fong was released at 6 p.m., about 46 hours after his arrest.

Fong, who was taken to the Caritas Medical Centre not long after his arrest, remained at the hospital as of Thursday night. He still had a high fever the following morning.

In related news, police said they did not send any officers to the Space Museum in Tsim Sha Tsui on Wednesday night, when hundreds of people gathered outside the building, training laser pointers at the dome to condemn Fong's arrest.

Police said the gathering was not unlawful and no one was hurt.

Meanwhile, Professor Roland Chin Tai-hong, HKBU president and vice-chancellor, sent another email to students, teachers and alumni on Thursday, saying he wrote to both Secretary for Security John Lee Ka-chiu and Police Commissioner Stephen Lo Wai-chung on Thursday morning about Fong's arrest.

As many HKBU students were not satisfied with Chin’s recent remarks, about 100 of them staged a sitdown on the campus on Thursday, the registration day for new students, to express their discontent.

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