Hong Kong protests: student urges others not to ‘let hate breed’ as he pleads guilty to slashing police officer in 2019

·3-min read

A Hong Kong student urged others not to “let hate breed” as he admitted in court on Tuesday to slashing a police officer’s neck with a box cutter during the social unrest of 2019.

Hui Tim-lik, who has been remanded in custody for 27 months, reflected on the assault on Sergeant Wesley Leung Siu-cheung in an open letter as he pleaded guilty to a count of wounding with intent at the High Court.

“Do not let hate breed,” the 21-year-old defendant said, as he read out part of the mitigation letter. “It takes a rational and loving mind to solve a problem. Hate and violence can never be the solution.”

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The court heard Hui, formerly a student at De La Salle Secondary School, used the box cutter to wound Leung during an anti-government demonstration in Kwun Tong on October 13, 2019.

Protesters had vandalised shops at the APM shopping centre that afternoon over accusations that its operator, Sun Hung Kai Properties, had enabled the arrests of their comrades in previous protests by allowing officers to enter their venues. The day’s unrest later spilled over to the adjacent Kwun Tong MTR station.

About 30 riot officers, including Leung, arrived at the scene at 5.30pm but could not locate the perpetrators.

As Leung was walking past a footbridge connecting the mall with the railway station around 10 minutes later, Hui, then a Form Six pupil, suddenly charged forward and slashed the right side of the sergeant’s neck. Hui was immediately subdued and arrested.

The 2.5cm cut severed a vein and nerve in the officer’s neck, and Leung’s voice became hoarse and his right ear went numb three days later. A full recovery of the paralysed vocal cord was “extremely unlikely”, according to his doctors.

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Leung was discharged from hospital six days later, but was given sick leave until May the following year. He resumed his duties in July 2020.

After searching Hui’s residence in Sha Tau Kok, police found what appeared to be his will with instructions for his funeral and the disposal of personal possessions. He stressed in the note he would never commit suicide and would only have died at the hands of “tyranny”.

Initially pushing for a charge of attempted murder, prosecutors ultimately accepted Hui’s guilty plea on the lesser count of wounding with intent. Both charges are punishable by life imprisonment.

On Tuesday, defence counsel Philip Chau Ka-chun SC asked the court for leniency, submitting a psychiatrist’s report that said Hui had autism spectrum disorder and possessed a tendency to self-harm.

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Hui, who has enrolled in a bachelor’s degree programme in psychology at Hong Kong Metropolitan University, previously the Open University, said that he had since learned to view things from different angles and to get along with others.

“I made a blunder out of immaturity, fear, hate, lunacy and inability to love myself,” Hui said. “I have deeply reflected on this, and I am very sorry. I hope I will be welcomed back to society in the future, and nobody will ever do similar things again.”

Mr Justice Andrew Chan Hing-wai will sentence Hui on Monday.

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