An audio recording of a woman claiming to be Hong Kong localist Lee Sin-yi, who reportedly fled to Taiwan in 2017 ahead of the Mong Kok riot trial, was broadcast on Tuesday in an online programme produced by the island’s pro-independence Taiwan Statebuilding Party.
It was the second recording Lee has purportedly issued since fleeing Hong Kong. The first was in August 2017, which was also posted online.
The Mong Kok riot broke out on the eve of Lunar New Year in February 2016 when protests against police clearing hawkers off the streets degenerated into anti-government violence. Some participants have since been jailed on rioting charges. Lee was among those facing charges – for rioting and assaulting a police officer – and skipped bail when she left the city.
The woman’s audio statement was in Cantonese. The programme host, Chen Yi-chi, who is the Taiwanese party’s chairman, said the party was sent the recording on a USB thumb drive. Chen said he could not confirm Lee’s whereabouts but believed it was her voice.
Lee reportedly arrived in Taiwan on a tourist visa in January 2017 and has not left since.
The Post has contacted the Hong Kong police for comment on whether they are investigating the matter.
Also appearing on the hour-long programme was former Causeway Bay Books owner Lam Wing-kee, who said he was kidnapped by Chinese agents in 2015 for selling books banned across the border and who recently left for Taiwan to start a new life, having expressed deep fears of the Hong Kong government’s controversial extradition bill.
Both the woman in the recording and Lam said they no longer had confidence in Hong Kong’s rule of law, and that it had been eroded under Beijing’s influence.
In the audio statement, the woman purporting to be Lee said Hong Kong’s rule of law was “all gone” and Beijing was abusing the legal system to suppress Hong Kong’s social movements, citing the jailing of Occupy Central activists.
“Hong Kong and Taiwanese people cannot afford to be naive any more; we should realise we are in a state of crisis vis-à-vis the Chinese authorities,” said the woman. “The stripping of Hong Kong’s rule of law didn’t start with the introduction of the extradition bill, but with the Causeway Bay Books case, when several people were sent to China under circumstances that remain a mystery,” said the woman.
“What the Chinese Communist Party is doing is legalising such acts,” she said, referring to the extradition bill.
“I hope Hong Kong people share their experience with Taiwanese people, to let them know just how awful the Chinese regime is. Otherwise, Taiwan will be the next to be swallowed up by Chinese authorities.”
On the programme, Lam also expressed support for Lee and said there was “no justice in Hong Kong courts”. He also asked Taiwanese people not to trust Beijing’s promise of “one country, two systems”. “You see how China treats Hong Kong and you will know how Taiwan will be treated [under one country, two systems],” said Lam on the programme.
He also said Hong Kong was proof of the failure of “one country, two systems”.
Lam warned Taiwanese people that if Hong Kong passed the extradition bill, they risked being arrested and sent to China for trial when passing through Hong Kong “so long as the Communist Party thinks you have taken part in protests or made critical comments [against Beijing]”.
Formerly known as Taiwan Radical Wings, the Taiwan Statebuilding Party is a pro-independence political group established in 2016. The party has said it has plans to field candidates in Taiwan’s 2020 legislative elections.
More from South China Morning Post:
- Former separatist leader Edward Leung found not guilty of additional Mong Kok riot charge
- Hong Kong man who threw brick at police ‘for fun’ during Mong Kok riot granted permission to appeal after judge agrees he did not act as badly as another who tried to torch taxi
- Hong Kong news reporter takes police chief to court over alleged assault by officers during Mong Kok riot