40 books, 1,500 fitness sets and pan-democrat visits: how prison made Hong Kong businessman Lew Mon-hung a new person

He thanks CY Leung on a radio show for making him realise who his real friends are

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 28 February, 2017, 3:15pm
UPDATED : Tuesday, 28 February, 2017, 4:36pm

When controversial businessman Lew Mon-hung glances down at his set of hands, the anguish of being cuffed and led to prison is still fresh. For him, the honour his proud palms once held – from handshakes with state leaders such as Xi Jinping and Hu Jintao – has been tarnished.

But according to Lew, he learned a precious lesson and came out a better man, with a fitter body after shedding 15 kilograms, and a wiser mind to discern truth from falsehood.

Lew, nicknamed “Dream Bear” based on his Cantonese name, was released from Stanley Prison on Monday.

‘I have no regrets,’ controversial businessman Lew Mon-hung says after early release from Stanley Prison

Speaking on a Commercial Radio programme Tuesday, he recalled his fall from grace one year ago on charges over perverting the course of justice, and his time behind bars.

“I led a regular life in prison – very well disciplined. Every day I woke up and slept early. I had four meals a day with one hour of exercise time,” Lew said.

“I did a full-body exercise with 1,500 reps every time. Over the period I shed a total of 15 kilograms,”

Despite going through the lowest point of his life, Lew, a friend-turned-foe of Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying, said he fully adapted to prison.

He secured an early release from his 18-month jail term, serving only 12 months because of good behaviour.

My personal feud with [Leung] was only a small matter. I really thank him for making me realise that the dark side of politics is heinous and cruel ... Thank you CY
Businessman Lew Mon-hung

Lew said he also became more knowledgeable by reading more than 40 books and many newspapers as well as listening to radio programmes.

“I can say that I now have more in-depth knowledge of the past and present, and the East and the West,” he said.

Lew was jailed in February last year for trying to halt an investigation into fraud and money laundering charges that were later unanimously cleared by a High Court jury in 2015.

Following his arrest in 2013, the District Court found that Lew had sent two letters and two emails containing threats to Leung and the head of the Independent Commission Against Corruption, Simon Peh Yun-lu.

Lew’s appeal against the conviction will be heard in the High Court this Thursday.

From being a political high-flyer to hitting rock bottom, the former Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference member told radio audiences that having a change in mindset was very important to overcoming life’s adversities.

“The most unbearable moment was when I was ushered into Stanley Prison with my hands cuffed. I once shook hands with state leaders such as Xi Jinping and Hu Jintao but why was this pair of hands cuffed just because of the two letters I sent?” he asked.

Once a loyal supporter of Leung, Lew claimed the hardship taught him who his real friends were.

Despite his ties with the pro-Beijing sector, Lew said only three pro-establishment figures had visited him in jail, including former legislator Lam Tai-fai.

In contrast, a surprisingly large number of pan-democrats were his regular visitors, including “Long Hair” Leung Kwok-hung, former Democratic Party chief Emily Lau Wai-hing and Civic Party’s Alan Leong Kah-kit.

“My personal feud with [Leung] was only a small matter. I really thank him for making me realise that the dark side of politics is heinous and cruel. I also realised that family is most precious; friendship is noble and true love is majestic. Thank you CY!” he said.