Democratic Party veteran Albert Ho has said he was very shocked that party member Howard Lam, who claimed to have been abducted and assaulted by mainland agents, has been arrested for misleading police.
Former lawmaker Ho helped Lam organise a press conference last Friday, where Lam told reporters about his alleged ordeal and showed them his injuries.
But investigative news agency Factwire obtained surveillance footage that appeared to contradict Lam’s version of events.
The clips showed Lam walking out from the shop where he claimed he was kidnapped at 5:41pm last Thursday, instead of around 4pm as he claimed. At 5:43pm, a man wearing similar clothing and with a similar walking style, but wearing a cap, sunglasses and a mask, then walked along Portland Street in Mong Kok. The footage did not show anyone being abducted during the three-minute walk.
Lam was arrested by the police for allegedly providing false information and was detained overnight, hours after the report came out. The police said Lam took transport on his own and left Mong Kok safely that day. His flat in Ma On Shan was searched, and police took away three phones, a tablet, a computer and a pair of sunglasses.
Ho said on a Commercial Radio programme that he was very shocked by his party colleague’s arrest: “After all, he was a complainant who was injured – suddenly he became the accused.”
“I am also shocked that his role changed after just a few pictures from surveillance cameras [emerged].”
Ho said he will not easily change his mind about the incident and said Lam has denied that he was the person wearing the cap, sunglasses and mask.
“He denied it to Factwire, denied it to us, and denied it to his lawyers,” Ho said.
Ho said the police arranged a meeting with Lam and his lawyers at 9pm on Monday, but the police cancelled, arresting Lam at his family’s flat in Tai Kok Tsui at midnight instead. The Factwire story was published around 10:30pm.
“I have questions about this [arrangement],” Ho said.
Ho said there are still questions about whether the person wearing the additional clothing items was Lam.
“Why must it be him?” he said. “You can compare the first picture with the other pictures – are they completely similar?”
When asked by the radio host how the Democratic Party would respond if Lam was proven to have given false statements, Ho said he did not wish to make such an assumption.
“A victim who reported a case suddenly became the one under investigation – when I helped him, I had good reasons to help him, I should not suddenly change my view and make an assumption that he lied to the public,” Ho said.
Lam was a former member of the Democratic Party’s central committee. The committee held a meeting on Tuesday morning, apparently over Lam’s arrest.