Pro-democracy activist Ken Tsang Kin-chiu may have his social worker licence revoked after the regulatory body’s disciplinary panel ruled that his criminal conviction had “brought the social work profession into disrepute.”

But Tsang said the disciplinary offence ruling was made on the basis of facts, and he will therefore not appeal.

Tsang served a five-week sentence for pouring liquid over police officers and resisting arrest during the 2014 pro-democracy Occupy protests.

Ken Tsang. Photo: HKFP/Ellie Ng.

Chan Yee-fei, a pro-Beijing social worker, filed a complaint last year to the Social Workers Registration Board accusing Tsang of committing professional misconduct, after he was convicted.

Chan contested and lost in the social welfare sector of the 2012 Legislative Council election against pro-democracy candidate Cheung Kwok-che.

A social worker source told HKFP that disciplinary panels are formed from five people chosen from a pool of around 60 social workers and other professionals, whenever complaints are received.

No misconduct

Tsang told HKFP that Chan’s accusation was ruled unsubstantiated by the panel, as he did not receive his criminal conviction for any actions carried out when he was on duty as a social worker.

However, the Registration Board’s guidelines state that a registered social worker has also committed a disciplinary offence if they have been convicted in Hong Kong, or elsewhere, of any criminal offence “which may bring the social work profession into disrepute… and is punishable with imprisonment.”

The panel therefore ruled that Tsang had committed an offence.

“I do have a new local criminal conviction. I agree [with the ruling], I will not appeal,” Tsang said.

Supporters of Ken Tsang waited outside Stanley Prison upon his release. Photo: League of Social Democrats, via Facebook.

The disciplinary panel has yet to recommend any punishment. According to the guidelines, punishments may include a verbal warning, a written reprimand on the social worker register, or the disqualification of the social worker from the profession for a limited or indefinite period.

When the panel has made a ruling on the punishments, it will be sent to the Registration Board for consideration.

The Registration Board consists of 15 members: eight elected by social workers, six appointed by the government, and the Director of Social Welfare or his representative. Pro-democracy candidates, including Tsang, won all of the eight seats available in elections to the Board in 2015.

Tsang said the eight had a joint platform during the elections: “We vowed to ensure social workers would be free from ‘political suppression’ such as threats to revoke their licences.”

“I don’t know what the final result will be, but I trust my colleagues,” he said. “It is clearly stated in the Social Workers Registration Ordinance that social workers’ role is to defend social justice. I believe my conscience is clear.”

After being arrested during the protests in 2014, Tsang was then brought to a substation at Tamar Park and beaten up by seven police officers. They were recently jailed for two years.

Kris Cheng

Kris Cheng is a Hong Kong journalist with an interest in local politics. His work has been featured in Washington Post, Public Radio International, Hong Kong Economic Times and others. He has a BSSc in Sociology from the Chinese University of Hong Kong. Kris is HKFP's Editorial Director.