Hong Kong pro-democracy singer-activist Tommy Yuen has been officially charged with committing an act or acts with seditious intention in connection with his social media posts. He was remanded into custody pending trial.

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

The 41-year-old singer was transferred to the West Kowloon Magistrates’ Courts on Thursday afternoon following his arrest on Tuesday. He stands accused of making statements on Facebook and Instagram with an aim to bring into hatred or contempt or to excite disaffection against the Hong Kong government and the administration of justice.

His posts were also said to have the intention of raising “discontent” among residents, potentially “exciting them” to act illegally.

Some of the 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, police said on Tuesday.

West Kowloon Magistrates’ Courts. Photo: Kelly Ho/HKFP.

The former member of Cantopop group E-kids was also detained for alleged money laundering, with police accusing him of “filling his own pocket” with public donations intended for helping those apprehend for alleged rioting during the 2019 unrest.

Another 20-year-old man was arrested on Tuesday in relation to the money laundering charge. Both Yuen and the unnamed man have yet to be formally prosecuted with the offence.

Devices seized

Police said on Tuesday that a total of five phones, one computer, some bank cards and some bank records were seized during their arrest operation. The prosecution confirmed on Thursday that one of the phones taken away was Yuen’s, and that it will be scrutinised by an expert.

The force will also review the financial records seized, the prosecution added, saying additional charges may be laid on Yuen and further arrests may be made.

Magistrate Andy Cheng Lim-chi rejected Yuen’s bail application after he concluded that there were insufficient grounds to believe that the accused would not continue to commit acts endangering national security if bail was extended.

Hong Kong singer-activist Tommy Yuen attended court hearings at the West Kowloon Magistrates’ Courts before he was charged with acting with seditious intention. Photo: Tommy Yuen, via Facebook.

While the charge Yuen faces stems from the colonial-era Crimes Ordinance, the stricter standard for granting bail to national security suspects was applied at Thursday’s hearing. It came after the Court of Final Appeal ruled in December last year that acting with a seditious intention and other offences in the Crimes Ordinance also amounted to crimes endangering national security.

The Crimes Ordinance, last modified in 1972 when Hong Kong was still a British colony, was revived in September 2020 – around two months after the national security law was enacted – to prosecute activist Tam Tak-chi for “uttering seditious words.” So far, more than 20 people in Hong Kong are awaiting trial under the ordinance, including speech therapists and journalists.

Magistrate Cheng adjourned the case to April 14 for a mention. Yuen retained his right to review his bail status every eight days.

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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.