Hong Kong Law & Crime

Going rogue? Customs officer who joined ‘anti-smuggling’ protest suspended

A Customs and Excise Department officer has been suspended for leaking internal and sensitive information related to law enforcement on social media. The officer, surnamed Lam, joined an “anti-smuggling” protest in Shatin in February.

Lam posted on Facebook that “at the department I am working in, there is an unwritten rule” that disabled, young and elderly people, mothers carrying babies and pregnant women “will not be bothered”. He questioned whether the rule could be abused by parallel traders using such identities as cover.

Lam at the anti-smuggling protest n Shatin.

Lam (left) at the protest in Shatin. Photo: Apple Daily.

“I check them specifically!” Lam said, referring to the demographics he says other officers avoid. However, Lam he not reveal that he was a Customs officer in the post, according to Apple Daily.

Lam received a letter from Customs on Monday noting that his social media post may “reflect a problem in your character and discretion”. It stated that his “integrity is being questioned” and that his employment may be terminated.

In response, Lam wrote on his Facebook page on Wednesday: “I have no regrets”.

Anti-smuggling protest

Lam was working at the border control post at Shenzhen Bay Port but joined an anti-parallel trader protest in February. After he was interviewed by local broadcaster TVB in a mask, he was identified by netizens opposed to the protest. His face and job role were revealed online and in local media. Some netizens said they would file complaints to Customs.

Apple Daily reported that he was then transferred to Man Kam To border control to check trucks rather than passengers between March and April. He was required to write a report about his participation in the protest.

Police surrounding protesters at a protest in Shatin.

Police surrounding protesters at a protest in Shatin. Photo: Kris Cheng/HKFP.

North District Parallel Imports Concern Group spokesperson Ronald Leung Kam-shing told the newspaper that Lam was being punished for expressing free speech. He said that his group had seen students “smuggling” electronics, but he could not comment if the “unwritten rule” was true.

Customs Officers Union chairman Chan Ming told the newspaper that the officer had sought help from the union. Customs said they will follow regular procedures to handle the case.

Going rogue? Customs officer who joined 'anti-smuggling' protest suspended