A Hong Kong newsmaker is chosen each month by HKFP. Click here to view previous nominees. Mr Lam Wing-kee is selected as HKFP’s Person of the Month for June 2016.
Lam Wing-kee is the founder of Causeway Bay Books, which is known for selling political gossip titles banned in China. Lam, along with four other colleagues who worked at the store, went missing last year.
The disappearances sparked concerns over cross-border kidnapping and led to protests. The booksellers then reappeared on the mainland on television “confessing” to illegally sending books banned in China across the border.
When Lam crossed the border on June 14, he cancelled his missing person case and stated that he did not require any assistance from the government or the police – the same as the other returned booksellers.
But in a surprise press conference two days later, he revealed that he was kidnapped in Shenzhen last October, then detained and ill-treated for eight months by a “special unit” separate from official mainland police.
Lam told reporters that he was asked to return to Hong Kong at the order of the Chinese authorities to retrieve a hard drive containing sales records from the bookstore. However, according to Lam, he was touched by the Hongkongers who marched in the street for the booksellers and decided to turn back at the Kowloon Tong MTR station on the way to the mainland.
See also: Previous Person of the Month winners.
Lam said he had done nothing wrong as sending books was legal in Hong Kong, and he was kept in solitary confinement without access to lawyers or outside communication. Some in Hong Kong see the incident as a violation of One Country, Two Systems whilst others worry about the implications on the freedom of Hongkongers.
Since Lam’s revelations, his colleagues at the Causeway Bay Bookstore and his girlfriend in the mainland have separately accused him of lying and using them to run his banned books business. Lam said that he would not reply to or rebut these claims for the sake of his girlfriend and his friends.
Earlier this month, over a thousand protesters marched from the Causeway Bay Books bookstore to the China Liaison Office in Sheung Wan in support of Lam.
Lam will lead the annual pro-democracy march organised by the Civil Human Rights Front on July 1, alongside two other Hongkongers who were arrested and jailed on the mainland for political reasons in the past.