Hong Kong housing

Demonstration over Fanling golf course turns violent after man attacks Hong Kong Labour Party member 

Oscar Lo, 28, grabbed by throat and slammed to ground after crashing gate during demonstration calling for the course to be developed for housing

PUBLISHED : Friday, 27 April, 2018, 5:52pm
UPDATED : Friday, 27 April, 2018, 7:58pm

Tensions over the prospect of building houses on Hong Kong’s biggest golf course boiled over on Friday, as a protester who stormed the course’s gates was grabbed by the neck and thrown to the ground by an angry golfer.

Labour Party member Oscar Lo, 28, was left with red marks on his neck after the scuffle.

Lo, who was part of a small demonstration calling for the development of the course to boost housing supply, ran past security guards at the front gate before he was attacked. The assailant, surnamed Tong, was then dragged away by a security guard. The 57-year-old was later arrested on suspicion of assault occasioning actual bodily harm.

About a dozen Labour Party members had set up at the front gate to support an option floated by the government to develop all or part of the course to ease the city’s housing shortage. The protest was just before a media event at 11am to announce the formation of the Hong Kong Alliance of Golfers. The alliance, backed by golf pros, coaches and local celebrities, aimed to drum up government support for the Fanling course.

Building on the 170-hectare course was listed as one of the four fastest ways to increase land supply by a government task force in its public consultation document released on Thursday. An earlier study indicated the golf course could provide 13,000 flats if all the land were used to develop housing. 

Finding enough land won’t solve Hong Kong’s housing crisis

According to Labour Party chairman Steven Kwok Wing-kin, the demonstrators went to the course at about 10.30am to “express their views” about the golf course. Kwok said the march started peacefully, but a party member was “assaulted” by a man at the course, which is leased by the Hong Kong Golf Club.

While security guards had tried to stop protesters from entering, a gate was held open by protesters, and the group marched into the club.

“Subdivided flats, the shame of Hong Kong”, a banner held up by Kwok and others read.

When Lo climbed the stairs to one of the club’s buildings, Tong grabbed Lo’s neck with both hands. He proceeded to push Lo down the stairs and throw him to the ground, before security got involved.

“He hit me,” Tong shouted, before security guards escorted him into the building.

After the incident, Lo had what appeared to be red scratch marks on his neck and arms. He was sent to North District Hospital in Sheung Shui for examination.

Tong was arrested when he reported the incident to police later on Friday, a police source said. He told officers he was feeling unwell and was also sent to North District Hospital.

The Hong Kong Professional Golfers’ Association confirmed Tong was one of its members. “He was there to play golf. As he was hurt in the incident, he filed a report at a police station. As the incident is being followed up by the police, the association has no further comments,” an association spokesman said.

‘Vested interests will be kept out of efforts to find land for new homes’

Kwok said police were at the course when the incident happened, but did not stop the “assault”. 

“This is ridiculous. I hope the police will investigate the incident in a serious manner, and the club should apologise,” Kwok said.

Hong Kong Golf Club said Tong was not its staff, nor a member.

Five key things you need to know about Hong Kong’s land crisis

“According to media footage, the involved person was not a club employee, security guard or member but, if necessary, the club will cooperate with the police’s investigation,” it said, adding it does not tolerate violence at the club.

An alliance spokesman said Tong was not a member, adding the group “regrets the incident and objects to any act of violence”.

With additional reporting by Christy Leung