Radical Hong Kong activist arrested for allegedly removing library books using simplified Chinese characters
The action was allegedly carried out to highlight the increasing use in Hong Kong of simplified Chinese characters, which are prevalent in mainland China
A radical activist was arrested on Wednesday after he allegedly appealed to the public to remove books using simplified Chinese characters from public libraries.
Alvin Cheng Kam-mun, commonly known as “Four-eyed Gor Gor”, 27, is a member of Civic Passion, which supports localism and promotes anti-mainland Chinese sentiment.
Cheng was arrested for theft and “access to a computer with criminal or dishonest intent” in Shau Kei Wan as he worked at a roadside booth set up by the radical group.
A police spokesman said they had received a report on Tuesday from the Leisure and Cultural Services Department, which operates public libraries in the city, that someone had removed books with simplified Chinese characters in a library and the act was recorded in an uploaded video clip.
Posted by 四眼哥哥（鄭錦滿） on Saturday, 2 April 2016
The clip, lasting just over one minute, was posted on Cheng’s Facebook page on Saturday. A male claimed on the video that he was Cheng and was in a public library in Mong Kok.
It showed dozen of books with simplified Chinese characters being removed from shelves and dumped in a rubbish bin or hidden inside a fire hose compartment or gaps between bookshelves. This apparently happened inside the library.
The clip came with a message titled “Hong Kong library war. Spontaneously removing books with broken Chinese characters to oppose brainwashing.”
He said in the message: “The media recently reported that public libraries had bought 600,000 books in broken Chinese characters since 2006. Many were children’s books which praised the Chinese Communist Party.”
He also cited members of the public as saying the department had withdrawn some books in traditional Chinese characters to give room to books using simplified characters.
He called on the public to remove the simplified books and let the movement “blossom everywhere”.
Simplified Chinese characters, which are used on the mainland, are sometimes called “broken Chinese words” in Hong Kong. They have become more common in the city.
Civic Passion’s online news portal, Passion Times, said several police officers approached Cheng’s home in Mong Kok yesterday morning but he was not there. He was later arrested in Shau Kei Wan.
Cheng was released on bail on Wednesday night and must report back next month.
In a reply to a lawmaker’s question about the incident, Secretary for Home Affairs Lau Kong-wah told councillors that such behaviour in libraries would not be accepted.