Protesters have demanded transparency from a Tiu Keng Leng school after rumours swirled over the death of a 15-year-old student.

Chan Yin-lam – said to be a swimmer and a regular participant in the ongoing protests – was last seen on September 19. Her body was found naked in the sea near Yau Tong three days later.

Chan Yin-lam HKDI VTC CCTV footage

Police said the case was a suicide and not suspicious – a conclusion questioned by pro-democracy newspaper Apple Daily last week due to the circumstances of the body’s discovery. Chan was cremated on October 10.

CCTV footage row

On Monday, hundreds of students sat in at the Vocational Training Council (VTC) and Hong Kong Design Institute (HKDI) – which share the same Tiu Keng Leng campus – demanding that management release CCTV footage on the evening of September 19, showing Chan. Management relented in the afternoon, screening two pieces of footage.

The first footage released appeared to show Chan inside an elevator at around 5:50pm. But management stopped the video shortly after the 5:51pm timestamp just as the lift doors opened to show a man, and refused to show any more – prompting an outcry from students.

Chan Yin-lam HKDI VTC
Photo: LIHKG.

The second, blurrier footage released showed the scene outside the campus at around 6:58pm, in which a staffer pointed out a female figure as being Chan. But students raised questions as to why the time-stamp jumped from 57 seconds back to 56 seconds, and again forward to 57 seconds.

Dissatisfied with the management’s release of only partial footage, some students vandalised the glass panels of the HKDI campus on Monday evening. They spray-painted the walls with graffiti reading “CCTV” and “you’re unfit to be teachers”.

The VTC then announced that classes would be suspended for three days owing to the situation on campus.

Chan Yin-lam HKDI VTC CCTV footage
Photo: Citizen News screenshot.

On Tuesday, management released around 20 more seconds of the first CCTV clip, showing Chan in a lift with a man. The footage also appeared to show Chan leave the lift.

“Apart from not showing the faces of unrelated persons captured on CCTV due to privacy reasons, we have not edited or deleted any CCTV footage,” said the VTC in a statement.

The security head of the campus also told students and the media that the footage had not been lost, and was being preserved in a safe place on the campus.

Chan Yin-lam HKDI VTC
Photo: Stand News.

Further vandalism of the campus took place in the afternoon, targeting the library.

Alleged eye-witness

Meanwhile, a Year 2 visual media student at the HKDI spoke to reporters on Tuesday, saying that he might have seen Chan between 7pm and 8pm on September 19, wearing a similar outfit to the figure in the CCTV.

He said she was slowly walking barefoot inside Tiu Keng Leng MTR Station without any belongings: “But she looked like she was searching for someone, because she was looking around in all directions horizontally.”

Chan Yin-lam HKDI VTC
“Black”, Year 2 student at the HKDI. Photo: Stand News screenshot.

During their October 11 press conference, police said Chan had never been arrested in relation to the ongoing protests. They refused to say whether she had ever been arrested in general, due to privacy reasons.

But on Tuesday, Apple Daily cited a friend as saying that she had been arrested after physically lashing out at police officers while visiting her boyfriend, who was being held at a correctional facility on Lantau Island – and spent a period before her death in a juvenile home.

If you are experiencing negative feelings, please call: The Samaritans 2896 0000 (24-hour, multilingual), Suicide Prevention Centre 2382 0000 or the Social Welfare Department 2343 2255. The Hong Kong Society of Counselling and Psychology provides a WhatsApp hotline in English and Chinese: 6218 1084. See also: HKFP’s comprehensive guide to mental health services in Hong Kong

Elson Tong is a graduate of international relations and former investigations consultant. He has also written for Stand News.