A protester who set his arm on fire when government officials reclaimed a renowned temple has fainted while attending a District Council meeting.

The protester, Lau Kin-kwok, attended the Sai Kung District Council’s bi-monthly meeting at the Tseung Kwan O Government Complex to demand the conservation of Po Yin Fat Yuen. A protest organised by Hong Kong Indigenous was held concurrently outside the complex to oppose the violent evictions by government officials in June.

Lau being sent to the hospital. Photo: Hong Kong Indigenous via Facebook.

Speaking to HKFP, Ray Wong Toi-yeung of Hong Kong Indigenous said that Lau fainted after a district councillor expressed offensive remarks directed at him. “The district councillor made comments asking Lau to piss off.” Wong added that “Lau has already suffered from poor health,” and passed out shortly after.

Ray Wong Toi-yeung of Hong Kong Indigenous. Photo: Wikimedia Commons.

Lau was sent on an ambulance and put on an oxygen mask to assist breathing. He is now released from the hospital. 

Prior to his loss of consciousness, Lau told Oriental Daily that he was not satisfied with the Sai Kung District Council’s decision to evict villagers from the Buddhist temple. He said that the age of the temple is similar to that of the Tiu Keng Leng Old Police Station, but the District Council only preserved the latter.

Lau set his left arm on fire on June 16 after police and firefighters forcefully entered the Buddhist temple, located near Tiu Keng Leng in Sai Kung. He was sent to Tseung Kwan O Hospital for surgery after suffering severe burns.

Protest held by Hong Kong Indigenous via Facebook.

Hong Kong Indigenous protested against the violent evictions last month and lack of public consultations of the District Council. They said in an online statement: “The president of the Sai Kung District Council said that they would continue negotiating with [villagers of] the temple.” However, they did not expect the council “to communicate with police batons.”

The controversy began when the Sai Kung District Council passed the motion to build a Tseung Kwan O Heritage Hiking Trail in 2014. The authorities then issued a notice to terminate the temple’s tenancy last July.

Located in the Tiu Keng Leng Old Police Station, the building was the centre of what became known as “Little Taiwan” – a squatter settlement for Kuomintang loyalists escaping Communist advance during the Chinese Civil War (1945-49).

The enclave became home to thousands of refugees who maintained their own school system and kept the flag of the Republic of China flying until 1996, when the Hong Kong government evicted the last of Tiu Keng Leng’s residents ahead of the colony’s retrocession to China.

Additional reporting by Ryan Kilpatrick


Paul Benedict Lee

Paul Benedict Lee is an undergraduate law student at the Chinese University of Hong Kong. Paul has previously contributed to HK Magazine and Radio Television Hong Kong, covering issues ranging from local heritage conservation to arts features. He has also worked as a legal intern at local human rights firm Daly & Associates.