Executive Council member Ronny Tong says he is saddened by the arrest of Democratic Party member Howard Lam, but has faith that there are misunderstandings that can be resolved.
Lam was arrested for allegedly misleading police on Tuesday after claiming last week that he was abducted and assaulted by mainland agents in Mong Kok. Police said they found no evidence of him being abducted and claimed he left Mong Kok safely.
The police have condemned Lam, saying he falsely claimed he was locked up, wasted police resources, and caused unnecessary public fear.
Tong, a senior counsel, said on a Commercial Radio programme on Tuesday that any person should be assumed innocent before being convicted.
“It may be too soon for the police to make the condemnation,” Tong said. “But maybe the police were very angry, after they spent so many resources investigating this… if he is convicted, I believe the court will think this is a serious crime.”
Tong said he did not believe the case involved using false instruments. However, since the police took computers away from Lam’s home, he may have committed an offence of accessing computers dishonestly, if the police accusation that Lam planned the incident was proven true.
Tong added that he was saddened by the incident: “Those who are close to him feel pain; those who hate him feel joy.”
“Doing such a thing at a such a sensitive time – I hope people will forgive my words – but it was silly. What for? For opposing the joint checkpoint arrangement? For opposing Beijing, [he] would do something to destroy ‘One Country, Two Systems’? I hope there are misunderstandings.”
Tong said he had known Lam for many years and that he gave the impression he was “simple-hearted.”
“I may be naive, [but] I do not think people I am in touch with will lie… unless there is solid evidence,” he said.
“The Democratic Party hosted such a high profile press conference, putting its integrity on the line, I don’t think it’s worth it,” he said. “Just like a lot of Hong Kong people, I have a certain level of trust in the Democratic Party. Will it change people’s view of the Democratic Party? I am concerned.”
He said Hong Kong will not benefit if the Democratic Party’s integrity was being challenged, and it will only cause more conflict in society.
“But as a lawyer I want the truth to come out,” he said. “I am torn.”