Activist and Civic Passion vice-chairman Alvin Cheng Kam-mun has been ordered to pay a HK$3,000 fine for binning and hiding nine books in simplified Chinese characters last March.

Cheng, who currently works at the office of Civic Passion lawmaker Cheng Chung-tai, was accused of stealing nine books from the Kowloon Public Library on March 29 last year. He earlier pleaded not guilty to one count of theft at the Kowloon City Magistrates’ Courts.

Alvin Cheng. File Photo: Facebook via 鄭錦滿.

On April 2 last year, Cheng uploaded a video on social media calling on the public to “resist” library books printed in simplified Chinese – a writing system used in mainland China.

The video appeared to show a person throwing books written in simplified Chinese into the bins in a library and hiding them inside the building, such as in cabinets or behind lockers.

On Monday morning, magistrate Wong Sze-lai compared Cheng to “Robin Hood” but said his behaviour was still dishonest and found him guilty of the offence.

The magistrate said that Cheng’s acts were selfish and deprived others of the right to read the nine books. The books were later all recovered.

Fa Yuen Street Public library. Photo: Wikicommons.

Although the defendant has two criminal records, the magistrate decided to fine Cheng after considering that the previous cases were not related to dishonesty.

Outside the court, Cheng said that he will need some time to decide whether to lodge an appeal. He also called on Hong Kong people to cherish and defend their own language and script.

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Karen is a journalist and writer covering politics and legal affairs in Hong Kong for HKFP. She has also written features on human rights, public space, regional legal developments, social and grassroots activism, and arts & culture. She is a BA and LLB graduate from the University of Hong Kong.