Hong Kong restaurateur and YouTube star Alex Yeung under investigation in Singapore for hosting talk on city’s political crisis
- Founder of the Wah Kee restaurant chain has passport confiscated after accusation of organising a gathering without police permission
- But local police say, ‘He is neither arrested nor in police custody and is free to go about his activities within Singapore’
Alex Yeung Kwun-wah is the founder of the Wah Kee restaurant chain and known for his Wah Kee Positive Energy YouTube channel, which has about 150,000 subscribers. Yeung was accused in Singapore of organising a gathering without police permission.
“Yeung’s passport has been impounded while he is assisting the police with ongoing investigations,” the Singapore police said in a statement on Thursday. “He is, however, neither arrested nor in police custody and is free to go about his activities within Singapore.”
It is illegal in Singapore to participate in a public assembly without a police permit. Violations are punishable by a maximum jail term of six months and fines of as much as HK$57,600 (US$7,300).
Yeung, who also owns a Japanese investment consultancy, has become a hate figure for Hong Kong’s pro-democracy camp. He has expressed strong support for the Hong Kong police and alleged that young students had been paid to attend anti-government protests.
Yeung had kept a low profile in recent weeks, including a trip to Singapore for “business opportunities”.
Of his current situation, Yeung wrote on Facebook on Monday: “I may be facing few years in jail, because I was set up”.
Video footage from a Singapore bar on October 11 showed Yeung lambasting Hong Kong protesters for fighting for independence and threatening China’s sovereignty.
He also criticised opposition leaders such as former lawmakers Albert Ho Chun-yan and Lee Cheuk-yan and retired Catholic cardinal Joseph Zen Ze-kiun.
The Singapore police said the event on October 11 was later moved to a public area.
“Please don’t politicise the matter, it has nothing to do with Singapore or the Chinese government,” Yeung wrote on Facebook on Tuesday. “I wish to bear all the responsibility, instead of hurting the feelings of two countries. So, I won’t seek help from the Chinese embassy.”
Yeung’s lawyer declined to comment, saying only that Yeung was fully cooperating with the police.
Singapore-based lawyer Chooi Jing Yen said it was easy to run afoul of the Public Order Act because public assembly is defined quite broadly in Singapore.
“The purpose need not even be political – the promotion of any cause will do,” he said. “The definition of ‘public place’ is arguably also wide enough to cover the bar at which the gathering started.”
He added that it is uncommon for Singapore authorities to impound a visitor’s passport. He said it might be unfair for a foreigner, especially a tourist, to be detained in Singapore for a prolonged period of time during an investigation.