Pro-democracy lawmaker Alvin Yeung has said that a Fire Services Department (FSD) logbook relating to an incident at Prince Edward MTR station on August 31 appears to have been modified up to ten days after the incident. Some of the changes related to the number of people injured after baton-wielding police stormed the station, deploying pepper spray and making arrests.

Yeung, of the Civic Party, said he obtained an internal incident logbook from the FSD. He said the document cannot clarify whether there were deaths – as unsubstantiated rumours have claimed – but some record-keeping discrepancies have raised questions.

Alvin Yeung Fire Services Department staff member
Alvin Yeung and three anonymous Fire Services Department staff member. Photo: RTHK Screenshot.

An initial report at around midnight noted that ten people had been hurt, including six in a critical or “red” condition, two categorised as “yellow,” and two in a “green” condition. But the figure was adjusted about 45 minutes later to just seven, with the three in a “red” condition cut from the report.

The police, FSD and the Hospital Authority have denied online claims that there were deaths. Deputy Chief Ambulance Officer Tsang Man-ha said last week that the one medic who was present in the station from the outset did not have a “triage card” at the time, and it was possible that some people were counted twice.

At Yeung’s press conference on Tuesday, three anonymous FSD staff members appeared via video conference in hats, sunglasses and masks, without revealing their rank.

YouTube video

The press conference was conducted in the format of a Q&A between Yeung and the three, as they highlighted questionable entries in the log.

According to the log, different FSD staff on the scene counted nine to ten injured. In the log, four public hospitals also confirmed arrangements with the FSD that they would receive ten people – six in a “red” condition, two in “yellow” and two in “green.”

Most of the alterations to the records were made days later, on September 3.

Fire Services Department record
One of the records that was modified on September 3. Photo: RTHK Screenshot.

Some records were modified on September 10. The entries related to police moving the injured people to Lai Chi Kok MTR station.

A record modified on September 10 inserted a claim from a police senior superintendent who said that the number of injured was seven, with the three in a “red” condition no longer noted.

One of the FSD staff speaking at the press conference said it was a rare change, because logs should rely on first-hand accounts from FSD staff, and should not rely on information provided by others.

“These changes were critical – they affected how the incident [was recorded],” Alvin Yeung said.

None of the three FSD staff were present on the night of August 31 and Yeung did not state whether they had provided the records.

Fire Services Department record
One of the records that was modified on September 10. Photo: RTHK Screenshot.

Records cannot be deleted afterwards, and can only have details inserted or modified, according to one of the anonymous FSD staffers. They said that only the FSD control room and managerial level staff would be able to modify entries.

There were no records made between 00:36am and 1:02am on September 1, according to the log. One of the FSD staff said that such a gap was rare, but added that staff managing an FSD vehicle could have been communicating with the FSD control room via mobile phones at the time. Mobile phone conversations with control would be recorded but would not appear in the logbook.

“Was it because there was no need [to communicate]? Or was it because of other reasons? This is a big question,” Yeung said.

Fire Services Department record
No records between 00:36am and 1:02am on September 1. Photo: RTHK Screenshot.

Yeung said he could rule out whether errors were made in entering the modification time, which is entered manually: “But after obtaining this document, and with the explanation provided by those who are familiar with the procedures, I believe there are more substantial reasons to question what happened on August 31,” he said.

He urged the MTR Corporation to release all relevant security camera footage and logbooks: “I believe the public will make their own reasonable judgment. But the government should explain the issues as soon as possible,” he said. Thus far, the MTR has only released screenshots from CCTV cameras.

September 6 protest Prince Edward MTR Mong Kok CCTV
Photo: Tom Grundy/HKFP.

Last week, the Fire Service Department said they did not exactly know why the number of injured changed. The Department said that its ambulance staff were delayed for an hour in treating those injured inside Prince Edward MTR station, as a police officer twice denied them entry.

August 31 ended with 53 people arrested.

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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.