Sham Shui Po district councillor Yan Kai-wing has been arrested after staging protests calling for the demolition of a shopping centre to be delayed.

The police told HKFP that Yan was arrested on Tuesday on suspicion of criminal damage, obstruction of public officers, common assault, and illegal assembly. He has since been released on bail and must report to police in mid-August.

The police said Yan and two others were suspected to be involved in damaging a fence and metal chain, as well as the keyhole of a lift in the Pak Tin Commercial Complex on June 21 and 22. He is also suspected of obstructing a public officer in carrying out their duties on the evening of June 22 in the same shopping complex.

Yan Kai-wing during last Monday’s protest. Photo: Facebook/Yan Kai-wing.

Yan and about a hundred local residents surrounded the Pak Tin housing estate’s office last Monday to demand that the Housing Authority postpone the shopping centre’s demolition for a year while a new one is under construction.

The demonstrators clashed with security guards during the protest, resulting in Yan, his assistant, and three security guards being sent to hospital with injuries, according to Apple Daily.

The police said Yan was suspected of having pushed over a security guard during the incident.

Yan Kai-wing is an independent, pro-establishment figure not affiliated with any political party, though he formerly belonged to the Business and Professionals Alliance for Hong Kong.

He rallied about 10 supporters on Tuesday outside the Kowloon City police station before he surrendered himself to police for “arrest by appointment.”

He said he was contacted by police that morning. He led about 10 attendees holding banners in a chant: “delay the shopping centre’s demolition.”

Pak Tin Commercial Centre. Photo: Housing Authority.

Yan posted photos of himself being taken away by paramedics on a stretcher last Monday. He said he was waiting outside the estate’s Housing Authority office for over five hours with nearly 100 residents, demanding to see the director. Finally, he tried to enter the office himself but was surrounded by five to six security guards, who he claimed tried to physically lift him up and take him away.

“That’s how the physical clash happened, resulting in injuries on both sides,” he said.

Yan told Line Post last week that the passageway in the commercial complex is the main conduit used by residents in the upper estate to go and buy groceries and other necessities. If they cannot use the lifts, it could take residents around 15-30 minutes to walk around, he said.

He vowed that residents would gather outside the shopping centre every day until the Housing Authority agreed to delay the demolition.

According to Oriental Daily, residents have been holding sit-ins at the shopping centre every weekday for two months to prevent the closing of the lift corridor.

The Housing Authority issued a notice in mid-June saying that it would block off the shopping complex from entry on June 22.

Catherine Lai

Catherine is a Canadian journalist and photographer who lived in Beijing for almost two years, working in TV and online media. Aside from Hong Kong and mainland affairs, she is also interested in urban spaces, art and feminism. She holds a BA in Literature and Art History from the University of British Columbia.