Hong Kong police

Police may look into mental health of Hong Kong democracy activist Howard Lam after kidnap claim

Sources say police not ruling out possibility that Lam, who admitted to suffering from depression in 2014, had mental issues and the stapling was an act of self-harm

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 16 August, 2017, 8:02am
UPDATED : Thursday, 17 August, 2017, 6:30pm

Police might look into Howard Lam Tsz-kin’s mental state and whether the staples on his legs were an act of self-harm by a man suffering from depression who attempted suicide in the past, the Post has learnt.

The revelation came after detectives found the crosses stapled onto the democracy activist’s thighs had been punched in so neatly, without any scratches or other bruises, that they doubted his claim that his abductors had held him down against his will to punish him for not loving his country and his Christian faith.

“Stapling into the flesh must cause pain and the victim should struggle in his natural reaction. It is almost impossible that the crosses were made so precisely and neatly without any scratches or other wounds,” one police source said.

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“In logical thinking, the victim should be pinned face down on the floor and stapling should be [done on] his back to avoid any struggle.”

Another force insider said police did not rule out the possibility that Lam, who admitted to suffering from depression in 2014, had mental problems and the stapling was an act of self-harm.

“Records show he attempted suicide a couple of years ago. It means he had tendencies to harm himself,” the insider said. “We cannot rule out at this stage that he was mentally unstable.”

Stanley Ng Wing-fai, a close friend of Lam in the Democratic Party, said the activist had been on medication for some time, fighting against depression.

“Lam had been seeing a doctor earlier this year. He had been getting better and was excited to set off for Yale University to study,” Ng said, adding that from what he knew, Lam had been visiting a private doctor.

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A source close to a medical professional who treated him after Lam reported his alleged kidnapping to police last Friday said that he was considered to be “mentally unstable” and was told to seek psychiatric help. But Lam declined the advice.

On Monday, the activist denied that he suffered from any mental illness or had hurt himself deliberately.

“I am mentally healthy. I do not think that I am sick in any way,” Lam said on a Commercial Radio programme.

When asked if he was paranoid or on psychiatric drugs, Lam said: “This is patients’ privacy. But I can tell you all that I am very conscious. I do not have paranoia, hallucination, paracusia or persecutory delusions.

“I am not on drugs. I do not even drink alcohol. No one would punch staples into one’s own legs.”


• 24-hour hotline at Suicide Prevention Services: +852 2382 0000

• 24-hour hotline at Samaritan Befrienders Hong Kong: +852 2389 2222

• Society for the Promotion of Hospice Care: +852 2868 1211