China Insider: Hong Kong Radio Director Arrested over Investigative Report on 2019 Attack

November 9, 2020 Updated: November 9, 2020

On the night of July 21, 2019, men in white attacked citizens indiscriminately at Yuen Long MTR Station in Hong Kong. After the incident, RTHK (Radio Television Hong Kong)’s radio show “Hong Kong Connection” interviewed witnesses and compiled surveillance footage of the day to prove that the police had arrived at the scene long before the men in white. Choy Yuk-ling, a producer and director involved in the production, was arrested by police on Nov. 3.

Choy Yuk-ling, the RTHK television director who helped produce a program about the “2019 Yuen Long attack” was arrested at her home on Tuesday. After being detained for about six hours, Choy was released on $1,000 cash bail. She was subsequently charged by the police with “using the information obtained for a purpose other than stated” under the Road Traffic Ordinance. Her case will appear in Fanling Court on November 10.

Choy Yuk-ling, the RTHK television director said: “The arrest of a journalist on the grounds of the Yuen Long attack feature has probably raised public concern about whether the police are using it to suppress press freedom, and may even have a chilling effect on the industry. What room would there be for Hong Kong journalists in the future? How will they do news reporting or investigative reporting? In particular, this is a matter of great public interest, so I hope that Hong Kong journalists will continue to hold to our values, be fearless and selfless, and continue to do what we should.”

In July last year and July this year, RTHK’s current affairs program “Hong Kong Connection”, in which Choy co-produced, aired feature films “721 Yuen Long Nightmare” and “7.21: Who owns the truth”. Last year’s “721Yuen Long Nightmare” compiled a large number of CCTV footage from the day of the incident, showing that the police had repeatedly patrolled the area where the men in white gathered in the afternoon, but had allowed them to attack citizens. The film won Best News Documentary/Special at this year’s New York Festivals TV & Film Awards.

The other film “7.21: Who owns the truth” aired in July this year and revealed that plainclothes police officers suspected of carrying warrants had been wandering the streets of Yuen Long before the attack and witnessed large numbers of armed men in white gathering without taking any action.

Alan Leong, Senior Counsel, sitting-Chairman of the Civic Party in Hong Kong said: “I believe the high-profile arrest of RTHK director Choy Yuk-ling was due to the fact that she produced two Hong Kong Connection films, which caused great embarrassment to the Hong Kong police, who arrived about 39 minutes late to protect the beaten citizens on the day last year. I think there is absolutely no proper explanation for this. Choy underwent a painstaking investigation and told the detailed story of what happened that night.”

James To, the Democratic Party member of the Legislative Council of Hong Kong, also believes that this is the Hong Kong government and police using the law to retaliate against journalists who dare to expose the truth.

James To, the Democratic Party member of Hong Kong’s Legislative Council said:“I have reason to believe that Carrie Lam’s government and police are retaliating against RTHK. Her report on the Yuen Long incident shows the background, rationale, and details of the police’s failure to take actions. So this is political revenge through the law. She is persecuting this journalist, persecuting any story that tries to expose police abuses and police collusion with gangsters. The police hope that threatening actions will scare others away from revealing abuse by police.”

Choy Yuk-ling is the former chairman of the RTHK labor union. Her arrest has shocked Hong Kong’s media community. Several media organizations and unions, including Hong Kong Journalists Association, RTHK Program Staff Union, and Independent Commentators Association have criticized the police for abusing the Road Traffic Ordinance to suppress journalists and destroy press freedom.

Alan Leong said: “The Hong Kong government has used the high-profile arrest and prosecution of Ms. Choy to create a chilling effect on journalists and the media, hoping they will not follow up on the 2019 Yuen Long attack. I think Carrie Lam of the Hong Kong SAR government is no longer able to control herself, because now the CCP Central Committee is directly controlling Hong Kong affairs in Beijing through the Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress, the Liaison Office, and the Central Leading Group on Hong Kong and Macau Affairs. So I think everything the SAR government does now is like an agent of the CCP Central Committee in Beijing.”

Democratic Party legislator Lam Cheuk-ting, who was wounded by the men in white in the 2019 Yuen Long attack, was charged by the Hong Kong Police with “rioting.” He believes that it’s absurd for the police to arrest the truth-seeking journalists instead of the men in white at large.

Alvin Yeung, the current Leader of the Civic Party also said that the 2019 Yuen Long attack last year was a shame for Hong Kong. Instead of carrying out a fair and independent investigation into the incident, the SAR government cooked up charges and arrested journalists who are investigating the truth, which is typical of authoritarian regimes.