A Hong Kong civil servant has been jailed for six months after he pleaded guilty to making “seditious” online posts that advocated for an “armed resistance” and “destruction” of the Chinese Communist Party.

Inland Revenue Department computer technician Luk Ting-fung was handed the jail term by Chief Magistrate Victor So on Tuesday, after the 34-year-old admitted to “doing an act or acts with seditious intention” under the colonial-era sedition law, local media reported.

west kowloon court
Photo: Kelly Ho/HKFP.

When handing down the sentence at the West Kowloon Magistrates’ Courts, So, a designated national security judge, said the period of the offence lasted for two-and-a-half years between January 2020 and August 2022. According to local media reports, Luk made 21 statements on popular discussion forum LIHKG advocating independence for the city and “actual armed resistance movements” against the authorities.

Under police caution, Luk had said he was “joking” and had only made those statements out of “anger.” But the chief magistrate ruled that the defendant had “clear and unambiguous claims” and had called for “concrete action.”

The government worker also posted more frequently after he was promoted in the Inland Revenue Department, So said, with some remarks targeting the requirement for civil servants to take an oath of allegiance, media reports stated.

During mitigation, the defence said Luk was autistic and not good at socialising with other people face-to-face. Posting on LIHKG was his way of seeking validation and he did not intend to commit the offence, Luk’s lawyer said, adding his client later understood how his posts might have incited others to use violence.

Forum LIHKG. Photo: Almond Li/HKFP.

So set nine months of imprisonment as the starting point of Luk’s penalty and reduced the final sentence to six months after taking into account the defendant’s guilty plea.

Mainland Chinese man arrested

On Tuesday, Hong Kong police said they arrested a mainland Chinese man on suspicion of breaching the sedition law by putting up posters that were said to contain messages intended to incite hatred against the Chinese authorities.

The suspect surnamed Shi was a 27-year-old engineer who holds a work visa in the city. He was apprehended in Tseung Kwan O on Monday morning, around a week after the Force received a report from the Legislative Council’s security unit concerning three posters found on a noticeboard at the legislature’s public protest zone.

Legislative Council Complex
The Legislative Council complex in Hong Kong. Photo: Kelly Ho/HKFP.

Without disclosing the content of the posters, Chief Inspector Lo Yin-lam of the Hong Kong Island Regional Headquarters crime unit said the words and slogans printed on the A4-sized posters were related to Covid-19 policies which could provoke hatred or contempt against the Chinese leader.

Shi was said to have taken photos of the posters he put up and shared them on social media. Police seized two phones, two laptops, one printer and two sets of clothes from Shi’s home. The suspect remains in police custody pending investigation.

Sedition is not covered by the Beijing-imposed national security law, which targets secession, subversion, collusion with foreign forces and terrorist acts, and mandates up to life imprisonment. Those convicted under the sedition law, which was last amended in the 1970s when Hong Kong was still a British colony, face a maximum penalty of two years in prison.

Support HKFP  |  Policies & Ethics  |  Error/typo?  |  Contact Us  |  Newsletter  | Transparency & Annual Report | Apps

legal precedents hong kong
security law transformed hong kong
contact hkfp

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.