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Mong Kok riot

Who is Ray Wong? Hong Kong Indigenous leader nabbed after Mong Kok riot rejected pan-democratic camp’s milder approach

A participant in the 2014 Occupy movement, Wong went on to co-found localist group advocating ‘separation between Hong Kong and China’

PUBLISHED : Monday, 22 February, 2016, 11:06am
UPDATED : Monday, 22 February, 2016, 1:03pm

Before his alleged participation in the Mong Kok riot and his high-profile arrest on Sunday, not too many people in the city could recall the name of this central figure of the localism movement in Hong Kong.

Ray Wong Toi-yeung was born in the city in 1993 and had reportedly been working as a freelance interior designer. He studied at Tang Shiu Kin Victoria Government Secondary School before receiving vocational training at Caritas Bianchi College of Careers.

Wong, who later became a leader of localist group Hong Kong Indigenous, was a participant in the 2014 pro-democracy Occupy movement, a peaceful campaign of civil disobedience in pursuit of “genuine universal suffrage” in the city.

READ MORE: Hong Kong Indigenous leader Ray Wong arrested, as 1967 leftists condemn radicals who attacked police in Mong Kok

Calling the movement a failure in terms of striving for that goal, Wong shunned the milder approach adopted by the pan-democratic camp and groups like the Federation of Students and Scholarism.

He co-founded localist group Hong Kong Indigenous in January last year, an organisation that advocates “separation between Hong Kong and China” as well as “ using force in resistance”.

The group believes that the influx of mainland immigrants would undermine local culture and lead to abuse of the city’s welfare system. It advocates for Hongkongers’ right to self-determination.

Since its founding, Wong has been a core member of the group core member and its spokesman.

READ MORE: Explained – who are Hong Kong Indigenous and what was their role in the Mong Kok protest and riot?

The group drew attention with its participation in a spate of protests against visiting mainlanders, especially those conducting parallel trading across the border in Yuen Long, Tuen Mun and Sha Tin last year.

Some of the protests escalated into intense clashes with the police and pedestrians, and several group members, including Wong, were arrested.

On the night of the Mong Kok unrest, Wong was seen with a bullhorn giving instructions to protesters in confrontations with police. He was also seen on top of a vehicle at the site, calling for support from pedestrians.

Prior to his arrest, Wong’s whereabouts had been unknown since after the riot.

READ MORE: Hong Kong Indigenous leader Ray Wong publishes ‘final message to Hongkongers’

In an audio recording posted on the group’s Facebook page on February 11, Wong lamented how his frustrations over his “unrecognisable” home eventually led him to co-launch a protest action that resulted in what has been described as the biggest riot in Hong Kong since 1967.

In what he called a “final message to Honkongers”, Wong said it was “better to die with honour than survive in disgrace”.

According to a Hong Kong Indigenous spokesman, the group now has 30 members, most of them students. The spokesman said prospective members would be screened first to see if they were trustworthy.

The group raised about HK$100,000 online in just one day after a public appeal for money on Facebook on February 9 to pay legal fees for members arrested after the riot.

The group told the media on Sunday that the HK$530,000 in cash seized by police in the Tin Shui Wai flat where Wong was arrested was the money it had raised.