Hong Kong opposition lawmaker Ted Hui bailed after arrest over phone-snatching saga
Democratic Party member who took female civil servant’s phone as she was trying to marshal lawmakers into meeting on April 24 was released from police headquarters shortly after midnight
Democratic Party lawmaker Ted Hui Chi-fung was bailed just after midnight, following his arrest on Saturday morning for common assault and dishonest access to a computer.
“The case is being investigated and so I can’t say too much about it. Thank you all for staying here till so late at night,” an exhausted Hui told a crowd of reporters, outside the police headquarters in Wan Chai.
Asked if he had cooperated with the police investigation, his fellow party lawmaker James To Kun-sun, a lawyer himself, signalled for Hui to leave.
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Hui, 36, had been under investigation since April 24 when he snatched a phone from a female civil servant at the Hong Kong legislature.
The woman was trying to marshal lawmakers into a meeting to discuss a government bill, but Hui felt it was wrong for the government to monitor lawmakers’ whereabouts. After grabbing her phone, he dashed into the men’s toilet, before emerging minutes later.
He then apologised to the woman and the public.
On Saturday, police said a 36-year-old man, surnamed Hui, was arrested in Tuen Mun in the morning. Later that night, police said he could be involved in two more offences, namely obstructing a public officer in the execution of her duty and criminal damage.
A source with knowledge of the matter said the police told Hui the criminal damage offence concerns the piece of paper containing a list of lawmakers’ names that he snatched from the civil servant.
The Cybersecurity and Technology Crime Bureau is on the case. Police officers visited Hui’s flat in Kennedy Town on Saturday afternoon, while Hui remained in custody.
Democratic Party chairman Wu Chi-wai said the party had anticipated the arrest and would give Hui legal help, even though his membership was indefinitely suspended last month as punishment. Wu would not comment on the offences, including whether an accusation of common assault would apply if there was no bodily contact between Hui and the officer.
“It would depend on the evidence submitted to the court,” he said. “And we will leave it to the court for a fair judgment.”
Any person who is convicted of common assault would be liable to a maximum prison sentence of one year, while “dishonest access to a computer” carries a possible jail sentence of five years.
The Post understands Hui formed a legal team few days ago, and received assistance from his party on Saturday. He exercised his right to silence when questioned by the police.
Hui had been roundly condemned by government leaders and lawmakers, including members of the pro-democracy camp and his own party. He is now facing pressure to resign.
On Friday, the pro-establishment camp launched the process of trying to get him censured and removed from the Legislative Council.
New People’s Party lawmaker Regina Ip Lau Suk-yee said she would raise the motion officially at a full council meeting on May 23.
This would trigger an investigation, which could take months, after which the motion would be put to a vote. If two-thirds of lawmakers agree, Hui will be booted out of Legco.
Priscilla Leung Mei-fun, barrister and lawmaker from the Business and Professionals Alliance for Hong Kong, said if an investigation committee was set up while the force pressed charges at the same time, the committee must wait for the court ruling to decide if Hui should be removed from the office.
According to Article 79 of the Basic Law, when a lawmaker is convicted and sentenced to imprisonment for one month or more for a criminal offence committed within or outside the city, he or she could be relieved of their duties if two-thirds of lawmakers support the move.
Additional reporting by Alvin Lum and Phila Siu