The Democratic Party says one of its members was grabbed by mainland law enforcement agents in Mong Kok on Thursday, before being falsely imprisoned, beaten, intimidated and then dumped on a beach.

democratic party agent china assault
Photo: Kris Cheng/HKFP.

Howard Lam – a prominent party member – was allegedly accosted by Mandarin-speaking men at a sports merchandise store on Portland Street in Kowloon.

Update: ‘Unacceptable and outrageous’: Activist claims Chinese agents put 21 staples into his legs for being ‘unpatriotic’

Lam said that, three days ago, he received a call from a mainland Chinese person that he knew, who claimed to be affiliated to Chinese national security agencies. They warned him not to send a signed photo of footballer Lionel Messi to Liu Xia, the widow of Chinese dissident Liu Xiaobo. The late Nobel Laureate was a fan of Messi, according to his friends.

In Mong Kok, Lam said there was a struggle in which he received a head injury. His phone was confiscated and he was made to smell a substance before losing consciousness.

He said he was beaten when he awoke, and interrogated by four to five men: “I am not sure whether I was in mainland or Hong Kong,” he said.

The incident lasted eight to nine hours. He said he was knocked out again, only to awake on a beach at 1am on Friday morning. He walked to a road, found a taxi and discovered he was in Sai Kung.

democratic party lam cheuk-ting
Photo: Kris Cheng/HKFP

At a press conference on Friday, he showed reporters injuries where he says his tormentors put 21 staples into his skin for being “unpatriotic.” The staples were in the formation of crosses, as Lam is a Christian.

Update: Hong Kong democrat ‘abducted and beaten by mainland agents’ hospitalised, as police take statement

democratic party agent china assault
Photo: Kris Cheng/HKFP

“I have never owned any credit card debt, I have no relationship to triads – the biggest group I belong to is the church,” he said, dismissing any possibility of a personal feud.

Hong Kong jurisdiction 

Mainland officers cannot enforce Chinese law in Hong Kong, according to the Article 22 of the Basic Law, Hong Kong’s de facto constitution.

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“This is the first time such a serious case has happened,” said lawmaker Lam Cheuk-ting. “We will not allow mainland agents in Hong Kong. The party will examine the injuries at a hospital and report the case to the police later.”

democratic party agent china assault
Photo: Kris Cheng/HKFP

The incident came as Hong Kong was debating a controversial joint checkpoint arrangement whereby the mainland will be allowed to lease a quarter of the West Kowloon terminus of the Express Rail Link. Agents will be allowed enforce Chinese law in the special area.

The Hong Kong government defended the arrangement saying the area will not be seen as Hong Kong anymore legally and thus it will not violate the Basic Law.

democratic party agent china assault
Photo: Kris Cheng/HKFP

Last year, concerns were raised after bookseller Lee Bo was apparently kidnapped from the city and taken into the mainland without any record of a border crossing. Lee claimed on Chinese television that he voluntarily returned to China for an investigation over his Causeway Bay Books store, which published political gossip titles critical of the mainland.

In 2006, Albert Ho, a lawmaker at the time, was attacked in Central by four men. But he suspected it was related to his legal work, rather than his political affiliation. He was the first lawmaker to be assaulted in such a manner after the Handover in 1997.

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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.