HK$1m reward for safe return of autistic Yu Man-hon put up by donor 14 years after he vanished over border

Donor hopes to revive interest in tracing autism sufferer who vanished aged 15 on mainland in 2000, prompting mother's unending search

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 25 May, 2014, 5:15am
UPDATED : Sunday, 25 May, 2014, 5:15am

A HK$1 million reward is being offered for the return of an autistic boy who vanished 14 years ago when he was separated from his mother and managed to cross the border.

An anonymous donor has put up the money after hearing the story of Yu Man-hon, then 15, who entered Shenzhen via Lo Wu checkpoint in 2000 after becoming separated from his mother at Yau Ma Tei MTR station. When the mainland authorities tried to return him, Hong Kong officials turned him away and he has not been seen since.

"I remembered the story from the beginning and when I read it again in the Post recently, I thought something had to be done," said the donor, a man in his 60s who has lived in Hong Kong for more than 20 years.

I need to know what happened in that police station, if they beat him to death
Yu Lai Wai-ling, mother

He hopes the reward, which will only be paid on Man-hon's safe return, will reignite interest in the case and prompt a manhunt.

A similar reward was offered by an anonymous tycoon after Man-hon's disappearance.

Man-hon's mother, Yu Lai Wai-ling said she was grateful to the donor, and said she was still fighting to find out what happened to her son, who would be 29 now.

"Ultimately, anything which could bring my boy back I want to try," she said. "But if my boy is dead, if the mainland authorities confirm that something happened to him, no amount of money would bring him back."

Yu's focus is on getting a response from the mainland police, whom she believes brought her son in at some point after his return. She has heard rumours that Man-hon, who had a mental age of two, was beaten to death at the station, or sent to a remote rural area by the police.

But 14 years of letters to Hong Kong's Security Bureau and officials across the border have yielded no response from anyone on the mainland.

"I need to know what happened in that police station, if they beat him to death, or did they send him away - they need to give us a clear answer."

Yu hopes the latest reward will not lead to a repeat of events at the time of the disappearance, when the reward led to false reports of sightings. One man was jailed after falsely telling the family he had information, and asking for cash in return.

"I received so many bogus phone calls," she said. "I remember taking a taxi up to Shenzhen in the middle of the night after a call, raiding the streets in the mainland during [the 2003 severe acute respiratory syndrome outbreak] with a tip, searching everywhere in remote places even during a typhoon eight signal - but it all led to nothing."

However, Yu is prepared to explore any option to find the truth. "It's been so many years, but I still need to know. I need to know where to look," she said. "It's hard to hope and hard to say what happened. But without an answer, I won't give up."