Former director of national security Frederic Choi has admitted to paying multiple visits to an unlicensed massage parlour raided during an anti-vice operation last year, but denied ever receiving any sexual services at the establishment.

Frederic Choi arriving at the Eastern Magistracy on August 16, 2022. Photo: Almond Li/HKFP.

Choi was summoned to the Eastern Magistrates’ Court on Tuesday to testify in the case involving the Viet Spa massage parlour in Wan Chai. The four defendants – Li Yi Qing, Nguyen, Thi Thu Huong, Zhang Mingfang and Wu Ping-hung – stand accused of “managing a vice establishment” and operating the parlour without a license.

Wu’s lawyer asked Choi how many times he visited the massage parlour.

“I don’t remember how many times clearly but I think it should be a few times,” Choi replied in Cantonese, with his response translated into English by the court’s interpreter. When asked to give a more specific answer, he said he went “four to five times.” Choi’s first visit to the parlour was around mid-2020, the court heard.

Choi also said that he was inside a room with a young woman when police officers raided the premises. Choi was asked whether the woman offered him any sexual services, to which he responded, “no.”

Viet Spa in Wan Chai. File photo.

Choi said that none of the women at the parlour had offered him sexual services. “No one… ever suggested that to me,” he said. He also denied receiving any such services, including masturbation, during any of his visits. He said he would usually stay at the parlour for around an hour, sometimes “less than an hour.”

When asked by another defence lawyer if he was served by the same masseur each time he visited Viet Spa, Choi said: “I did not choose. They were different.”

During a round of questioning from the prosecution, Choi testified that he had “no knowledge or control” of the police raid. He also said he did not know what services other customers might have been offered.

Choi said he did not know any of the parlour’s managers, nor had he made any enquiries with them. The prosecutor then suggested that, should Choi have needed to make any enquiries, they would have been “confined to massage services only.” Choi paused for several seconds while the interpreter repeated the statement, before he replied, “you could say that.”

A press area was set up outside the Eastern Magistrates’ Court. Photo: Almond Li/HKFP.

Choi, who wore a suit and a pair of black-framed glasses, arrived at the court in a white van. He entered the building unaccompanied.

A press area had also been set up outside the court in advance.

Choi’s testimony lasted between 15 and 20 minutes on Tuesday, and he left the court building shortly after that. He did not make any comment and got in a car immediately.

The case was adjourned to August 23, when the prosecution and defence will make their closing statements.

No criminal activity

After being found inside the parlour during the raid in March last year, the then-director of national security was placed on leave in May pending an internal investigation into alleged misconduct. Choi was cleared of wrongdoing in less than a week, as police said they found no evidence of Choi committing “illegal or immoral acts.”

Another probe by the Department of Justice also cleared him of any criminal activity. That August, Choi was transferred to the director of personnel and training position within the police force, a role he still holds.

Frederic Choi (front) leaving the court building after he testified on August 16, 2022. Photo: Almond Li/HKFP.

The police national security department was established to enforce the national security law which was imposed on Hong Kong by Beijing in June 2020. It criminalised subversion, secession, collusion with foreign forces and terrorist acts, which were broadly defined to include disruption to transport and other infrastructure.

The move gave police sweeping new powers, alarming democrats, civil society groups and trade partners, as such laws have been used broadly to silence and punish dissidents in China. However, the authorities say it has restored stability and peace to the city.

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Almond Li

Almond Li is a Hong Kong-based journalist who previously worked for Reuters and Happs TV as a freelancer, and as a reporter at Hong Kong International Business Channel, Citizen News and Commercial Radio Hong Kong. She earned her Masters in Journalism at the University of Southern California. She has an interest in LGBT+, mental health and environmental issues.