Pro-democracy activist Avery Ng jailed in Hong Kong over leaking ICAC investigation details, despite others convicted of same crime escaping prison
League of Social Democrats chairman gets custodial term because he showed ‘not a shred of remorse’, magistrate says
A pro-democracy activist was jailed for four months on Monday for divulging details of the city graft-buster’s investigation of a government official, despite most people convicted in similar cases dodging prison in recent decades.
However, Avery Ng Man-yuen deserved his punishment, Eastern Court magistrate Cheng Lim-chi said, as he showed “not a shred of remorse” for what he had done.
The jail term meant Ng, chairman of political party the League of Social Democrats, could not contest elections for the next five years.
The 41-year-old was found guilty earlier this month on three counts of disclosing the identity of individuals being investigated, without lawful authority or reasonable excuse.
He revealed on social media and to reporters that Betty Fung Ching Suk-yee – who was the permanent secretary for home affairs between July 2014 and March this year – was under scrutiny by the Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC).
Cheng said that Ng’s disclosure did not stem from serving the public good as he claimed, but was aimed at raising his own profile.
On Monday, Cheng said Ng still refused to accept his point and concluded that a community service order of between 200 and 240 hours, which was recommended by a probation officer, would not be a suitable punishment.
“There was not a shred of remorse,” he said.
Acknowledging that any jail term of more than three months would deal a blow to Ng’s plan to stand for the Legislative Council in 2020, Cheng said: “The defendant should take responsibility for his own behaviour.”
Ng’s lawyer Randy Shek said that between 1987 and 2007, only one out of eight successful prosecutions for the same crime led to a jail term. Another figure the ICAC provided recorded that two defendants who pleaded guilty were given a community service order over the past five years.
Outside court, Ng, who was granted bail pending appeal, called the judge’s decision “ridiculous”.
He said the suggestion that he longed for popularity was “a tale” dreamed up by prosecutors. “The Department of Justice conjured up the tale. The judge accepted the whole [story] without reservations,” he said.
Ng, a comrade of radical activist “Long Hair” Leung Kwok-hung, failed to win a seat at the last two Legco elections.