Former leader CY Leung’s ‘smug’ face invited me to throw a tuna sandwich at him, says Hong Kong pro-democracy campaigner
Avery Ng says stunt intended to highlight plight of city’s elderly poor, and Leung testifies he was ‘in a panic’ over projectile and scared
Former city leader Leung Chun-ying’s “very smug” expression was what invited a pro-democracy activist to lob a pungent tuna sandwich at him last year, a Hong Kong court heard on Wednesday.
The hurled snack hit a police officer when Leung ducked it, in what the accused, Avery Ng Man-yuen, called a “spineless” evasion.
But Leung told the West Kowloon Magistrates’ Court on Wednesday that he never made eye contact with Ng during the episode and did not know the League of Social Democrats member was there.
The former chief executive added that he was “in a panic” and “very scared” after seeing an object flying towards him.
Ng said the stunt was part of a protest about the plight of the city’s elderly poor.
He has denied one charge of common assault on the police officer, Lau Wing-kwan.
During the hearing, Ng, 40, said his and Leung’s eyes met seconds before he threw the sandwich on September 4 last year, as Leung entered a polling station on Robinson Road, Mid-Levels. Leung was heading to vote in the Legislative Council elections.
“I can describe his facial expression at that time as very smug,” Ng told the court. “He kept raising his eyebrows, raised his head slightly and protruded his lower lip. It was like he was saying: ‘Bring it on.’
“That was the message I received at the time.”
Ng said he did not expect Leung would be “so spineless” as to duck, causing the sandwich to hit Lau, who was walking behind the then chief executive.
He added he did not know Lau before, had not planned to hit him and did not consider whether the sandwich would hit him.
When Leung testified, Ng chose to take his lawyer’s place and put questions directly to the former top official.
During the exchange, Leung claimed he could not remember what expression he had before he saw an object flying towards him.
“I could not see any people standing ahead raising their arms,” Leung said. “What I needed to do was walk into the station as soon as possible. Ever since [former lawmaker Raymond Wong Yuk-man] threw a glass at me in the Legislative Council, I felt a need to be especially careful [during protests].”
Leung said he became very nervous after he “instinctively” evaded the sandwich because he did not know what the object was.
“I was in a panic,” he said. “I was scared.”
He also claimed he did not know there was a police officer directly behind him, did not know the officer had been hit by the object, and did not ask about the officer afterwards.
Ng called Leung “heartless” before Magistrate So Wai-tak reminded him not to speak on matters unrelated to the case.
The pan-democrat also asked Leung whether he had triad connections before So stopped him on the grounds of asking unrelated questions.
Ng said he had planned to give Leung the sandwich to highlight the plight of many of the city’s elderly, whom he claimed could hardly afford a sandwich.
He said police officers held him up as he approached Leung. Had he not been held up, he added, he would have walked up to Leung and handed him the symbolic sandwich.
Ng said he bought two sandwiches before the stunt, one for his own lunch, and the other – filled with tuna, because Ng does not like tuna – for Leung.
Prosecutor Francis Yip Kim-ming accused Ng of making up the details about Leung’s facial expression, and said he simply threw the sandwich without care for people’s safety. Ng denied that.
The case was adjourned to October 12.