Activists have urged the public to file complaints after a Hong Kong judge expressed sympathy for a man who was sentenced to 45 months in prison for stabbing three people in front of a pro-democracy message board last August.

Judge Kwok Wai-kin said the defendant, Tony Hung, was a victim of the pro-democracy protests as they affected his livelihood as a tour guide. According to Ming Pao, Kwok said Hung had made an “involuntarily sacrifice” and had suffered a reduced income.

“If there had not been such unusual unrest in Hong Kong, the mishap would not have happened,” Kwok said. He added that protests at the airport targeting mainland visitors had put a nail in the tourism industry’s coffin.

Kwok added that the defendant’s right to work, live and survive had been ruthlessly trampled upon and destroyed by people who claimed to be fighting for freedom. He compared them to terrorists and said it was reasonable to blame the movement.

On August 20 last year, 50-year-old Hung stabbed three citizens in front of a “Lennon Wall” of pro-democracy messages inside a Tseung Kwan O pedestrian subway after hearing their opposing political views.

A female victim being taken to the hospital.

All three victims were hospitalised, including a 26-year-old journalist who suffered a collapsed lung and remained in a critical condition for some time.

Kwok said he believed that one of the two knives Hung held was used to scrape off posters on the message board, Now TV reported.

Hung pleaded guilty for wounding with intent and was sentenced to 45 months in jail – a reduction from the starting point of six years behind bars.

Rule of law is dead’

Pro-democracy activist Ventus Lau shared a post from online forum LIHKG which called for complaints to be lodged against Judge Kwok. “Rule of law is dead. Red judges are in authority… It is time to take action and resist against the unjust judiciary,” Lau’s post read.

Kwok was appointed a District Judge in 2012 and has heard a number of prominent protest-related cases including one involving nine defendants charged with rioting during the Mong Kok unrest in 2016. He also presided over a case relating to an incident where protesters surrounded police headquarters last June.

Protests erupted in June 2019 over a since-axed extradition bill. They escalated into sometimes violent displays of dissent against police behaviour, amid calls for democracy and anger over Beijing’s encroachment. Demonstrators demanded an independent probe into the police conduct, amnesty for those arrested and a halt to the characterisation of protests as “riots.” 

Rachel Wong

Rachel Wong previously worked as a documentary producer and academic researcher. She has a BA in Comparative Literature and European Studies from the University of Hong Kong. She has contributed to A City Made by People and The Funambulist, and has an interest in cultural journalism and gender issues.