A senior Hong Kong prosecutor who complained about police conduct during the 2019 anti-government protests has been suspended from his post over an alleged infraction and is now believed to have resigned, media reports said.
Sing Tao newspaper reported on Wednesday that senior court prosecutor William Wong was suspended and investigated after he allegedly used an internal Department of Justice (DoJ) email system to urge colleagues to join an unauthorised assembly on June 4 last year.
The government prosecutor originally worked at the Eastern Magistrates Court but his post currently appears as “vacant” on the government telephone directory. Sing Tao cited sources as saying that he has quit.
According to the paper, Wong wrote in his email that “today will be the last June 4 [vigil] before the Hong Kong national security law is enacted.” The annual vigil commemorates those who died in the military crackdown on a student-led democracy movement in Beijing in 1989. Police last year banned the event for the first time in 30 years, citing Covid-19 restrictions on public gatherings.
Wong had also filed complaints to Secretary for Justice Teresa Cheng and the then-director of public prosecutions David Leung against the police force in September 2019, during the anti-extradition bill protests, according to Sing Tao and earlier reports.
Local media reported at the time that Wong, a former chairman of the Court Prosecutors (Department of Justice) Association, accused officers of “blatantly lying” and “harming the judicial system.” He questioned police claims that it was a coincidence that seven pro-democracy activists were arrested before August 31 and that the arrests were not linked to the sensitive date.
“We love Hong Kong, it is heartbreaking to see Hong Kong sink,” Wong wrote, according to media reports citing a leaked internal email.
August 31, 2019, was the fifth anniversary of the “831 framework” handed down by China’s top legislative body in 2014 governing the election of Hong Kong’s chief executive in future. The framework, which severely restricted the number of candidates, later triggered the Occupy Central Movement in which protesters called for genuine universal suffrage.
Citizen News cited sources who confirmed Wong had been suspended by the DoJ and may face disciplinary procedures. It had no information on the details of the allegations.
Commenting on the reported suspension of Wong, lawmaker Holden Chow of the pro-Beijing DAB party said on Wednesday it was part of the DoJ’s move to “set things right.” He urged the department to be vigilant, saying “bad apples” on its staff must be handled seriously.
“If a prosecutor encourages breaking the law, this seriously damages the reputation of the Department of Justice,” said Chow, who is a solicitor.
The DoJ, replying to local media inquiries, refused to comment on individual cases. It said there were established procedures for staff management.
The department said staff should ensure their publicly stated opinions would not clash with their duties, or make others believe the important principle of impartiality had been breached.
Civil servants in Hong Kong are now required to take an oath or sign a declaration swearing allegiance to the HKSAR and vowing to uphold the Basic Law. Around 200 public servants may face dismissal after they refused to take the loyalty pledge.