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Occupy Central

Ken Tsang assault trial ends first chapter of Hong Kong social worker’s mission against ‘ridiculous’ police power

Protester – himself jailed over 2014 fracas – will sit on panel choosing next chief executive, but sees little hope contenders will heed his calls for more accountability

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 14 February, 2017, 12:23pm
UPDATED : Tuesday, 14 February, 2017, 10:57pm

“Only in the seven cops case,” Ken Tsang Kin-chiu said, “do you realise how unbalanced and ridiculous [police power] has become.”

And as the case against the seven Hong Kong policemen accused of assaulting him drew to a close this week – all seven were convicted of assault occasioning actual bodily harm, one of them also of common assault – Tsang told the Post he had felt obliged to highlight problems with what he sees as the city’s overmighty police force.

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On October 15, 2014, the 17th day of the pro-democracy Occupy protests, Tsang was arrested at one of the demonstrators’ strongholds at Admiralty.

Then, the District Court found, the officers pressed him to the ground and proceeded to punch, kick and strike him with a police baton.

Moving on from the case, Tsang said he wanted to take the opportunity to underscore, for Hongkongers and for the world, a lack of an efficient system for holding police officers accountable.

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He has already filed, and won, a judicial review against the force for its unwillingness to disclose the identities of the seven police officers soon after the incident.

The prosecution did not kick off until a year after Tsang’s complaint.

“There has been a lot of concern [for my case],” Tsang said. “Equally, the hope of many people and their thoughts… on resisting injustice and human rights fell upon my shoulders.”

Over the past two years Tsang has represented various rights groups in the city, including speaking at a UN conference in Geneva about – as he sees it – declining freedoms and a lack of proper checks on police power in Hong Kong.

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Some might think Tsang, a registered social worker, wanted to become a politician when he threw his hat into the Legislative Council ring last year in the social welfare functional constituency, eventually losing to another familiar face of the Occupy movement, Shiu Ka-chun. Tsang said that was one of the ways he thought he could raise awareness of what he cares about.

The 41-year-old became a regular protester whilst studying journalism at Shue Yan University in 1995. He was travelling in South America when the Occupy protests began in September 2014, and he flew back to Hong Kong join the sit-in.

Despite losing in his Legco bid this year, he was later re-elected as one of the 1,194 members of the city’s Election Committee through the social welfare sector, giving him a say in the March poll for the next city leader.

Asked if he would bring up the topic of police power with chief executive contenders, he said he would not because he had little hope of them listening.

“It’s not like they don’t already know,” he said, adding that he found it more useful to turn to, for example, the Geneva conference in 2015 to raise international awareness.

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He said he intended to take the fight for change in the city one step at a time, firstly, by focusing on his case, which he said was unlikely to end with Tuesday’s verdict, predicting further appeals from the policemen.

He has filed an appeal himself, having been found guilty and jailed for five weeks for assaulting police officers and resisting arrest, when he poured liquid over 11 police officers on the same night he was attacked.