My Take

Let police investigate Democrat Howard Lam’s torture claims

His extraordinary allegations of being abducted by mainland agents and assaulted must be looked into by police before any of us leap to conclusions

PUBLISHED : Monday, 14 August, 2017, 1:48am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 16 August, 2017, 2:50pm

Extraordinary allegations require extraordinary evidence. Democratic Party member Howard Lam Tsz-kin claimed he was abducted in broad daylight and tortured by mainland agents. If true, it’s not only an outright criminal act but also a direct challenge to the “one country two systems” formula that governs Hong Kong.

But it’s difficult for people to know what to make of his very serious allegations because the case has been deliberately politicised. After Lam was let go, he didn’t call police or go to a hospital for help. Instead, he phoned his party elders, Albert Ho Chun-yan and Martin Lee Chu-ming, who then organised a news conference to publicise his ordeal and showcase his wounds with staples still inside that were allegedly inflicted by his tormentors. Lam said his Putonghua-speaking abductors were warning him against sending an autographed postcard from Barcelona soccer star Lionel Messi to Liu Xia, widow of the late Nobel laureate and political activist Liu Xiaobo, who was a soccer fan.

Hong Kong democrat Howard Lam rebuts his kidnapping claim doubters

Lee subsequently called Lam “foolish” and “legally ignorant” for washing his clothes and bag, thus failing to preserve physical evidence. Of course, Lee was the one who, instead of sending Lam to the police, put him in front of the cameras so police only learned about the case from television.

If Lam had gone to the police at the first opportunity, the evidence would have been preserved. Or if it were not, we would know the police were either incompetent or in league with their mainland counterparts.

An editorial in the state-run Ta Kung Pao dismissed Lam as a manic-depressive who might have inflicted harm on himself, and advised him to seek psychiatric help. A government-friendly lawmaker said Lam’s performance was “entertaining” and “laughable”. Others have cast doubt on his allegations.

Hong Kong democracy activists continue campaign for Liu Xia’s release despite alleged kidnapping

Meanwhile, pan-democrats and their media allies have been quick to seize on the incident as further proof of mainland maleficence. The political party Demosisto has linked it to the dangers of “co-location” – the proposed arrangement of allowing mainland customs and immigration officers to operate inside the future high-speed rail terminus in West Kowloon. Their warnings conjured up images of rogue Chinese agents detaining and threatening travellers with staplers.

What a sad state we are in that we see everything through an ideological lens. The rational thing to do is, of course, neither believe nor disbelieve Lam, but let police do their job and hopefully get to the bottom of it.