It was a set-up, claim Hong Kong families of men arrested by Philippines for ‘floating crystal meth lab’

Lawmaker James To Kun-sun raises the suspicions with Chinese embassy officials in Manila

PUBLISHED : Friday, 29 July, 2016, 11:26am
UPDATED : Sunday, 31 July, 2016, 4:06pm

The families of four Hongkongers facing life in jail in the Philippines for operating a “floating crystal meth laboratory” moored off the island nation’s Subic Bay claimed they were set up by the authorities.

Democratic Party lawmaker James To Kun-sun, enlisted by the families, flew to the Philippines on Friday to “rescue” the four men.

The four – Chan Kwok-tung, 42, Kwok Kam-wah, 47, Lo Wing-fai, 28, and Leung Shu-fook, 49 – appeared at a regional trial court on Friday and answered charges relating to the manufacture of illegal substances and possession of half a kilo of methamphetamine, also known as “Ice”.

Breaking Bad at sea? Four Hongkongers to be charged in Philippines after being arrested on floating drug lab

To and four relatives of Leung and Lo met with officials from the Chinese embassy in Manila after they were not allowed to observe the trial and meet the men.

It remained unclear what transpired at the trial. However, the four men, who had earlier sought help from the embassy, denied the charges two weeks ago. It was understood that Leung and Lo had told their families they were innocent and that they had claimed they had been set up.

I wonder if the operation was pre-planned
James To, Democratic Party lawmaker

To, a candidate for the city’s Legislative Council, raised his suspicions about the case with the embassy officials during the meeting.

He said the four Hongkongers had been commissioned by a local man in Cheung Chau to help sail a vessel from a dockyard in the Philippines to Hong Kong but that the 50-metre fishing boat was raided in a high-profile operation led by the country’s police chief Ronald de la Rosa two miles off the coast of Zambales province, northwest of Manila, on July 11.

“There was a big group of journalists tagging along. I wonder if the operation was pre-planned,” To told Hong Kong online news portal HK01 in the Philippine capital.

Quoting the family members, To also alleged that police had discovered nothing in their initial search but later claimed they found half a kilo of Ice in one of the men’s backpacks, which they had taken away for a few minutes.

The Cheung Chau local who had commissioned the four also disappeared, he added.

Lo’s sister said she did not believe that her brother, a fisherman for two decades who had good relationships with many residents in Cheung Chau – would produce drugs.

To said the embassy officials expressed deep concern over the accusations and the men’s human rights.

Local media earlier reported that the police believed the recovered illegal drugs only comprised a small portion of the drugs produced by the four and that the force had acted on intelligence.

A Hong Kong immigration spokesman said the department had received requests for assistance from family members of the four men.

It had also contacted the ­Office of the Commissioner of the ­Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the People’s Republic of China in Hong Kong as well as the Chinese embassy in the Philippines to provide possible assistance.

To is running for Legco’s District Council (Second) constituency in September. Other candidates include Sumly Chan Yuen-sum, Starry Lee Wai-king, Holden Chow Ho-ding, Leung Yiu-chung, Kwong Chun-yu, Kalvin Ho Kai-ming, Wong Kwok-hing and Kwan Wing-yip.