An active member of Hong Kong’s localist movement was found dead on a hiking trail near Tai Mo Shan on Wednesday. The deceased, 39-year-old Jacob Choi Wai-yik, had been missing for three days.
Johnny Wong Chi-yan, a friend of his, told HKFP that Choi went hiking every Sunday: “He’s usually a responsible person. He will upload photos and stories about the hikes afterwards to show he was safe, but he did not this time.”
Choi’s employer noticed that he was missing on Monday and went to his home in Chuk Yuen to look for him. His friends say they did not search for him in the mountains that day due to the poor weather.
The following day, Choi’s employer filed a missing person report. His friends also posted messages on social media in an attempt to ascertain his whereabouts.
Choi was known as an active supporter of localism and democracy in Hong Kong.
Chin Wan-kan, a professor at Lingnan University and a leading figure in the localist movement, posted messages on his Facebook page praying for his safety.
On Wednesday afternoon, Choi’s friends posted messages saying that his body had been found. Wong said that Choi’s employer had informed him of the news.
A police spokesperson told HKFP that a mountain search operation was mounted on Wednesday.
Fellow localist Ronald Leung Kam-shing, spokesperson for the North District Parallel Imports Concern Group, confirmed to HKFP that a body subsequently found in Tai Shek Stream belonged to Choi.
Leung said that members of the localist camp will go to the location where Choi’s body was found to pay their respects on Thursday and Friday.
Localist groups are generally pro-democracy but many consider pro-democracy activists and pan-democrats within the legislature to be ineffective. The camp is also tied with various movements related to the expansion of Hong Kong’s autonomy, for example advocating for city-state status or outright independence.