Jailed activist Ken Tsang to become first Hong Kong inmate to vote in leadership election after abandoning appeal

Occupy protester withdraws his legal challenge against conviction for assaulting police and begins five-week sentence

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 21 March, 2017, 12:56pm
UPDATED : Tuesday, 21 March, 2017, 11:20pm

Activist Ken Tsang Kin-chiu is set to become the first inmate to vote in a Hong Kong chief executive election this weekend, after he was jailed on Tuesday for assaulting police officers during the 2014 Occupy protests.

Tsang – a social worker and one of the 1,194 members of the Election Committee, which will choose the city’s next leader on Sunday – was jailed for five weeks, a day after he made an unexpected decision to give up the chance to appeal his convictions for assaulting police and resisting arrest in 2014.

Arriving at the High Court in the morning, Tsang vowed to cast his vote for chief executive from behind bars.

He said he had decided to abandon his appeal because the seven policemen who also assaulted him on the same night after his arrest – and faced a separate trial – had been put behind bars.

Tsang dismissed suggestions that fear of a longer sentence if he challenged the initial ruling had prompted him to give up, saying the jail term was never part of the subject of this appeal.

To back up his right to vote from behind bars, Tsang cited a 2008 judicial review lodged by lawmaker “Long Hair” Leung Kwok-hung and two prisoners, who succeeded in challenging the government’s curbs on prisoners’ voting rights.

Changes to the law to allow prisoners to vote were later passed by the Legislative Council.

“For the chief executive race, I will cast my vote,” he vowed.

Tsang, representing the social welfare sector in the Election Committee, said he expected relevant authorities to help him exercise his right to vote.

One of the reasons I have decided to give up my appeal is due to the fact that the seven policemen have been convicted
Ken Tsang Kin-chiu

He was found guilty in May last year of one count of assaulting police and two of resisting arrest during an incident in which he poured foul-smelling liquid over 11 officers during the Occupy protest on October 15, 2014. To date, he has insisted that the liquid was water.

Shortly after his arrest, Tsang was taken by seven policemen to an area near the protest site in Admiralty – dubbed the “dark corner” – where he was punched and kicked while lying hog-tied on the ground. The officers were convicted and jailed for two years in February for the attack.

Tsang was initially jailed for five weeks by Kowloon City Court for the assault, but was granted bail pending his appeal. He made public his intention to withdraw it on Monday, and formally informed the court yesterday.

“One of the reasons I have decided to give up my appeal is due to the fact that the seven policemen have been convicted,” he said upon arriving at the court.

“The seven policemen had to go to jail. I think it’s a good time for me to take my own responsibility.

“We are in pursuit of democracy and freedom ... against tyranny, so that our next generation can have a better future.”

Mr Justice Albert Wong Sung-hau, who presided over Tsang’s hearing, asked if the activist was aware that he would be jailed immediately, and reminded him that he would lose any chance of a future appeal, should he change his mind.

“I understand,” Tsang replied, before Wong ordered him to be imprisoned.

He took off a yellow ribbon pin and umbrella cufflinks – symbols of the 79-day Occupy protests – and passed them to his lawyers before being escorted out by Correctional Services Department officers. He thanked and waved to his supporters as he left.

Outside the High Court, Tsang’s supporters chanted “Tsang Kin-chiu, the real man”, and demanded Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying be jailed instead.

Commenting on the case, barrister Albert Luk Wai-hung said the activist would not have risked a longer jail term even if he had pressed ahead with an appeal.