Activist Ken Tsang Kiu-chiu started serving his five-week jail term yesterday after dropping the appeal against his conviction for assaulting police during an Occupy protest in 2014. He will also become the first inmate to vote in a Hong Kong chief executive election this coming weekend.
Tsang represented the social welfare sector in the 1,194 members of the Election Committee, which will select the city’s next leader on Sunday. Arriving at the High Court, Tsang pledged to cast his vote despite withdrawing the court challenge.
“For the chief executive race, I will cast my vote,” Tsang vowed. “I know what I did that night was not tolerated by the law so I need to take responsibility for that.”
Tsang was found guilty in May last year of one count of assaulting police and two of resisting arrest, after he poured foul-smelling liquid over 11 officers during the Occupy protest on October 15, 2014. He insists that the liquid was water.
Shortly after his arrest, Tsang was taken by seven policemen to an area near the protest site in Admiralty where he was punched and kicked by the officers. In February, the officers were convicted and jailed for two years for the attack.
Tsang was initially jailed for five weeks by Kowloon City Court for the assault, but was granted bail pending his appeal. On Tuesday, he said he decided to withdraw the challenge because of the police officers’ conviction.
“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 up my responsibility. We are in pursuit of democracy and freedom ... against tyranny, so that our next generation can have a better future.”
He dismissed suggestions that fear of a longer-term sentence prompted him to withdraw the appeal.
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 an appeal should he change his mind.
“I understand,” Tsang replied.
Outside the High Court, Tsang’s supporters chanted “Tsang Kin-chiu, the real man.”
Hong Kong Baptist University student Jessie Pang, 21, who took part in the Occupy protest, said Tsang’s decision was a sensible move. “Everyone has to respect the law and take responsibility for what they’ve done,” she says. “That includes the seven police officers. They should withdraw their appeals and obey the court’s rulings, because they shouldn’t have assaulted Tsang.”
But Young Post junior reporter Clement O’Young, 15, from Sha Tin College said people should not compare Tsang’s case with the seven policemen’s as they were very different. “The police officers are law enforcers,” he says. “Their two-year jail term was to let everyone know that they should not break the law. Tsang’s case was different because he was an activist who poured liquid on the police. A five-week term is reasonable.”