A Hong Kong man who was jailed for seven years for rioting and wounding in connection with the 2019 Yuen Long mob attack has decided to file an appeal against his sentence, as his family and supporters accused the judge of ”abusing [his] power.”

In a press conference on Tuesday, the wife of Tang Wai-sum said the 62-year-old merchant, who is currently locked up in Stanley Prison, is applying for leave to appeal against his jail term, imposed by District Court Judge Eddie Yip last month.

Yuen Long attack Tang Wai-sum appeal
Family and supporters of Tang Wai-sum hold a press conference on August 11, 2021. Photo: YouTube screenshot.

Yip had put Tang and six other men behind bars, after they stormed the Yuen Long MTR station on July 21, 2019 with over 100 rod-wielding men. The white-clad assailants – some with triad connections – assaulted protesters, civilians, commuters, journalists and former lawmaker Lam Cheuk-ting, leaving 45 people injured.

The group was convicted of committing offences including rioting, wounding with intent and conspiracy to wound with intent. Tang received the heaviest sentence among the seven, while others were jailed for 3.5 years to six years.

Tang’s wife said on Tuesday that her husband’s appeal application was underway with the assistance of a welfare officer. He is also waiting for his application for legal aid to be approved. She added Tang is currently being treated inside the prison hospital, as he has issues with his right eye after he received surgery twice in April.

Alex Yeung
Alex Yeung. Photo: inmediahk.net, via CC 2.0.

“Thank you everyone in the world who cares about my husband. [I am] really grateful. Everyday I let my husband know your concern, support and encouragement. My husband, who is inside [prison], is full of confidence, a lot of warmth,” she said and choked up.

In handing down the sentence, Yip said Tang, who faced four charges, had played a “directing role.” He witnessed how other white-shirted people “persistently attacked” victims, even after some fell onto the ground. He also had “falsely imprisoned” a man with several other people.

At the same press conference, Alex Yeung, a “key opinion leader” of the pro-Beijing camp, said they launched an online petition – with the assistance of Politihk Social Strategic – to gather support for Tang’s appeal. Sitting behind a banner that read “Unfair heavy sentence, strive for vindication,” the pro-establishment figure said the petition had gathered more than 32,204 responses that backed the Yuen Long-based merchant as of 9 am on Tuesday.

“I hope all Chinese people across the world can see the judicial injustice in this case, the starting point of the sentencing was too high,” Yeung said, adding they would not organise a crowd-funding campaign for the time being.

He went on to accuse Yip of not mentioning the actions of black-clad protesters in his judgement, whom he said had been “proactively aggressive.”

Another pro-Beijing community group leader Sandy Li would also organise 10 street booths in Yuen Long from Friday to Sunday to collect the support of Yuen Long villagers. Li said Tang was “forced to defend his home” as she claimed black-clad protesters had hurled objects at his barbecue site.

“How come when Yuen Long was forced to defend its home, [they] would be convicted of rioting? And got the heaviest sentence?” Li asked.

“This time the judge basically abused his powers,” she added.

The results of the petition and signature campaign will be submitted to Chief Justice Andrew Cheung next Monday, as Li and another representative file a formal complaint against Yip.

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Kelly Ho has an interest in local politics, education and sports. She formerly worked at South China Morning Post Young Post, where she specialised in reporting on issues related to Hong Kong youth. She has a bachelor's degree in Journalism from the University of Hong Kong, with a second major in Politics and Public Administration.