Hong Kong’s reputation as a safe city relies on intelligence sharing
The case of an Indian-born Hong Kong resident accused of a number of terrorism-related crimes should prompt authorities to review operations with other countries to ensure there are no communications gaps
Less than two months ago hundreds of Hong Kong police officers including elite units took part in a major anti-terrorist exercise at one of the city’s main MTR stations. Meanwhile, in real life, New Delhi is seeking the extradition of an Indian-born Hong Kong resident accused of a number of terrorism-related crimes. There may be no connection between the two events. But they are a reminder that our envied reputation as a safe city depends on vigilance, tireless rehearsal of terrorism responses and diligent intelligence-sharing with other countries.
Ramanjit Singh, 29, alias Romi, has been held at the high-security Lai Chi Kok reception centre after being arrested with five other men over a robbery in which more than 450 million Japanese yen (HK$33 million) was stolen from Tsim Sha Tsui on February 9. The money has since been recovered. At the time Romi was on bail on charges over a HK$3.2 million robbery in Hung Hom a year ago. He was refused bail in Kowloon City Court on Friday.
Now he turns out to be the quarry of a global manhunt sparked by an Interpol notice issued at the request of the Indian authorities. Alleged crimes include links to terrorism activities and financing, attempted murder, robbery, jailbreaks and rioting. Indian police also claim he was a middleman coordinating activities between Punjab gangsters and Pakistan-based terrorists.
According to the Interpol notice Romi fled to Hong Kong after being freed on bail from a Punjab high-security jail in 2016. The alleged Indian terrorist connection prompted beefed up security for Friday’s court appearance. It seems that until India filed its request for extradition the local authorities were not aware of the nature of Romi’s background there.
There is an argument that because Hong Kong is seen as so safe it also presents both an easy target and an inviting base for organising terrorist activities or hiding fugitives. Romi’s case should prompt our security authorities to review intelligence-sharing operations with other countries to ensure there are no communications gaps. After all, we are a multicultural society in which large community or family groups afford newcomers comparative anonymity or a low profile.