A Hong Kong property manager has been given 240 hours of community service for trashing nine national and regional flags when he was drunk last October.
Magistrate Kelly Shui on Wednesday adopted recommendations to spare Wong Cheuk-kit, 38, from jail and imposed the maximum hours of unpaid service, after hearing mitigation that he was acting under the influence of alcohol and had a low chance of reoffending.
“Please cherish your freedom,” Shui told the defendant. “You’ll only have this one chance.”
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Wong pleaded guilty last month to one count of desecrating the national flag and another in relation to the Hong Kong flag, offences punishable by up to three years in jail and a HK$50,000 (US$6,428) fine.
Tuen Mun Court heard plain-clothes police officers were patrolling On Ning Road in Yuen Long in the small hours of October 3 when they found Wong tearing down the national flag from a flagpole.
Wong was then seen dumping the flag into a nullah or a rivulet under a bridge, before he proceeded to tear down seven more national flags and a Hong Kong flag.
He was arrested after he dumped the national flags onto the ground and stuffed the regional flag into the front pocket of his trouser.
Under caution, Wong admitted the offence.
“Because of my political views and that I had been drinking, I got angry when I passed by and saw the national flag, so I dumped them into the nullah and onto the ground.”
He also admitted he was planning to throw the regional flag into a rubbish bin.
The damage was estimated at HK$1,080.
In mitigation, defence counsel Tony Li revealed that Wong had developed a drinking problem due to work pressure, but that he had sought help and stopped drinking after this offence.
Li also argued that the present case was less serious than that of Law Man-chung, who was jailed for 20 days following a sentencing review in the Court of Appeal, as Wong did not publicly desecrate the flags before an audience.
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