Several Hong Kong lawmakers have said that claims made by detained bookseller Lee Bo in a Phoenix TV “interview” are difficult to believe.

Lee spoke to China’s Phoenix TV on Monday, in which he said: “I came to the mainland to assist with the judicial investigation, and I had to incriminate some people. I was really scared that if these people found out, they will cause harm to me and my family, so I didn’t want anyone to know, and I didn’t want to leave any immigration records. So I chose to smuggle [to the mainland].”

Lee Bo. Photo: Phoenix TV screenshot.

Speaking on RTHK radio, Alvin Yeung, newly elected Civic Party Legislative Council member, said: “I understand that right now, many ‘kind-hearted’ people want to cover up the story and whitewash, to make the story as [least serious] as possible. But any Hongkonger with common sense will know… how can it be so simple?”

He also asked if the police could reveal more about the meeting with Lee. “When did they meet? They met him through who? Through what methods?” he asked.

Alvin Yeung. Photo: Alvin Yeung, via Facebook.

Truth or PR?

Former lawmaker Ronny Tong Ka-wah also told RTHK that it was difficult to judge whether what Lee said was political PR or the truth. He said that the main point in the matter was why he needed to smuggle himself back to the mainland and that there are more political problems involved than legal problems.

James To Kun-sun, pro-democracy lawmaker and member of the Legislative Council’s Panel on Security said to Ming Pao: “[Lee Bo] went back to the mainland to assist the [Chinese] government’s investigation, but he doesn’t have the confidence in the [Chinese] police to protect his personal safety?” He said that there were still many suspicious aspects regarding Lee’s case.

Michael Tien Puk-sun, pro-establishment lawmaker and a Hong Kong deputy to the National People’s Congress (NPC) told Ming Pao that it would be difficult to follow up the case in future [NPC] meetings because “Lee Bo said himself that he was not kidnapped, so accusations of cross-border law enforcement will be difficult to hold up.”

Michael Tien Puk-sun. File

The police met with Lee on Monday morning and took a statement from him at a guesthouse in the mainland. Lee told the police that he arrived in China voluntarily to assist the authorities and that “it was not an abduction”.

Secretary for Security Lai Tung-kwok said to local media on Tuesday: “As to how Lee Bo left Hong Kong, when a police officer and immigration department representative talked to him yesterday, Lee Bo did not reveal any further details. We will follow up in this regard.” He also said that he did not see any proof or evidence of cross-border law enforcement, according to Apple Daily.

Lee is among five co-owners and staff of Causeway Bay Books and its parent company Mighty Current – which specialises in Chinese political gossip titlesAll disappeared late last year. Lee – a Hong Kong British national – went missing in December, only to resurface in the mainland in January. He is now in police detention at an undisclosed guesthouse.

Chantal Yuen

Chantal Yuen is a Hong Kong journalist interested in issues dealing with religion and immigration. She majored in German and minored in Middle Eastern studies at Princeton University.