Hong Kong singer Lester Chong and nine others were jailed for up to four years and four months on Saturday, after the group were convicted of rioting in Yau Ma Tei during the 2019 anti-extradition bill protests.

Chong and Au Yeung Ho-ming, Chak Pak-lung, Cham Pui-lam, Chan Sze-chun, Cheng Tak-kwan, Chow Ka-wai, Chow Nok-ching, Kan Lai-yin, Lai Tsz-yan appeared at the District Court in front of Judge Josiah Lam.

Photo: Dylan Hollingsworth/HKFP.

The group were convicted in December last year of rioting in Yau Ma Tei on November 18, 2019, when the city saw a series of protests and sometimes violent clashes between protesters and police, sparked by a since-axed extradition bill.

Chong, Au Yeung, Chak, Cheng, Kan, and Lai were sentenced to 52 months in prison, while four others – Cham, Chan, Chow Ka-wai and Chow Nok-ching – were handed a 50-month prison term, the Witness reported.

According to the Witness, the judge said that he disagreed with the defence that the case was not the most serious, as the incident took place in Yau Ma Tei, a core area of Kowloon. He said that the protesters clashed against the police for 40 minutes and threw 250 petrol bombs, leaving four police officers injured.

Lam also refuted the defence’s argument that each of the defendants only stayed at the scene for a short period and did not take part in violent acts. The judge cited a Court of Appeal case that stated that the severity of a riot had to be considered as a whole, rather than the individual acts of each rioter.

Josiah Lam. Photo: Judiciary.

It was not the court’s intention to destroy the defendants’ lives, but to send a correct message, and hence had to hand down a heavy sentence said Lam, according to InMedia.


During mitigation, Lai’s representative said that the 25-year-old was five to six months pregnant. However, the judge rejected that as a reason for a more lenient sentence, and said that the Correctional Services Department would make relevant arrangements for her, Ming Pao reported.

Barrister Jeremy Cheung, representing Cheng, choked up at one point during mitigation, but was told by Lam that, while it was understandable, the barrister should not be sentimental, InMedia reported.

District Court. Photo: Candice Chau/HKFP.

Cheung said that with the implementation of the national security law and the upcoming legislation of Article 23, Hong Kong will not see social incidents of the same sort. The barrister also cited an advertisement from Hong Kong tycoon Li Ka-shing, and said he hoped that the court could give a chance to the defendants.

The advertisement was issued on front pages of several newspapers in 2019. One of which cited a Chinese idiom that stemmed from a historic poem from the Tang Dynasty. The poem referred to the story of Li Xian, son of Empress Wu, who asked her mother not to harm her sons for political power.

Article 23 of the Basic Law stipulates that the Hong Kong government shall enact laws on its own to prohibit any act of treason, secession, sedition, subversion against the central government. Its legislation failed in 2003 following mass protests. The government has always had enough votes to pass the law, but it has never been raised since the 2003 debacle. Pro-democracy advocates fear it could have a negative effect on civil liberties.

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Candice Chau

Candice is a reporter at Hong Kong Free Press. She previously worked as a researcher at a local think tank. She has a BSocSc in Politics and International Relations from the University of Manchester and a MSc in International Political Economy from London School of Economics.