Hong Kong police have arrested a singer on suspicion of acting with a seditious intention and money laundering. Citing sources, local media reported that pro-democracy singer-activist Tommy Yuen has been detained.

Police said on Tuesday that officers from the national security department rounded up a 41-year-old man for allegedly breaching the colonial-era Crimes Ordinance by provoking hatred towards the government and the judiciary on social media since last September. The suspect, a singer, was also apprehended for dealing with property known or believed to represent the proceeds of an indictable offence.

Steve Li
Steve Li. Photo: Hong Kong Police Facebook livestream screenshot.

Senior Superintendent Steve Li of the National Security Department told the press that the singer had performed a song containing the protest slogan “Liberate Hong Kong, revolution of our times” during an online concert in November last year. The High Court ruled in July last year that the phrase was capable of inciting others to commit secession during the city’s first-ever national security trial.

“That was very clearly mentioned in the Tong Ying-kit case, it means separatism. If this guy sings this song… that would be inciting others to do some illegal acts, so that is the basis of our enforcement action,” the superintendent said.

According to Li, the social media posts in question included “cursing” judges, making fun of police officers who died or were injured in the line of duty, and “vilifying” government policies during the fifth wave of Covid-19 infections. The singer was said to have urged people to boycott anti-epidemic measures and used profanity to criticise the opinions of medical experts.

Tommy Yuen Covid-19
Tommy Yuen wrote on Facebook on February 9, 2022 that he would not receive a Covid-19 vaccine nor do a Covid-19 test. Photo: Tommy Yuen Facebook screenshot.

Li quoted one of the posts as reading: “People will die from receiving vaccinations. Even after being vaccinated, it does not mean [you] will not [get Covid-19]. Let me demonstrate to you, how I can still live very well without kneeling down [to the authorities].”

“Looking at these posts, the only conclusion we can make is that he hopes to incite citizens’ hatred of the government through such seditious language and photos,” Li said.

Sources told local media that the person arrested was 41-year-old Tommy Yuen, a former member of the Cantopop group E-kids. Asked to confirm whether Yuen had been arrested, Li said he could not reveal the identity of the suspect.

Tommy Yuen
Hong Kong singer Tommy Yuen holds a copy of pro-democracy newspaper Apple Daily. Photo: Tommy Yuen, via Instagram.

Yuen was known for his support for pro-democracy demonstrators in the 2019 anti-extradition bill protests and unrest, and he often showed up at rallies to perform. Yuen’s Facebook page, which was last updated on Monday evening, includes photos with numerous high-profile pro-democracy figures.

They included former legislator Ray Chan and activist Hendrick Lui, both of whom are on bail pending a national security trial, as well as ex-Demosisto leader Agnes Chow, who was released from jail last June after serving time for her role in the 2019 protests.

Police also arrested a 20-year-old unemployed man on Tuesday in connection with the money laundering charge.

Li said the funds concerned totalled around HK$1 million and had been obtained through donations between March and November last year, after the singer called on people to support protesters who had been apprehended for rioting.

Tommy Yuen (right) and former lawmaker Ray Chan.

According to police, the money was deposited into the 20-year-old’s account and around HK$150,000 had been used for “personal purposes,” including dining and entertainment. Meanwhile, around HK$270,000 was used for gambling in a Hong Kong Jockey Club (HKJC) account, which showed records of betting.

The two suspects were said to be family members.

“It is very clear – he used seditious behaviour to make money and filled his own pockets,” Li said.

The Security Bureau froze around HK$140,000 worth of assets in connection to the case citing the Implementation Rules for Article 43 of the Beijing-imposed security legislation. The amount frozed included funds in a local bank account and the HKJC account.

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Kelly Ho

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.