7th March, 2014
Video Evidence Exposes Sidney Lee Chi-hang’s Lies
Central & Western District Council’s Working Group on Civic Education held a meeting on 6th March to discuss the use of the USD32,000 public funding for political reform’s promotional activities. The majority of this District Council Working Group is pro-government and pro-China individuals. At the beginning of the meeting, the members voted to remove all reporters at the venue, which means turning the open door meeting into a closed door one. Later on, one of the members at the working group called the police to physically remove a pan-democratic district council member from the meeting room. During a phone interview, Sidney Lee Chi-hang, Chairman of this Working Group, apologised and said “I am sorry to have caused all the misunderstanding and concerns.” However, comparing to what he said in the interview and the video taken at the meeting, Lee was lying through his teeth.
Apple Daily’s reporter was amongst the group of journalists at the meeting being kicked out. Sidney Lee was very unpleasant to the journalists at the meeting and took down all of their information and said, “even though I have taken down your information, it does not mean that I allow you to stay in this meeting.” At the beginning of the meeting, Lee demanded all journalists to leave the meeting. When reporters asked if the meeting is a “closed door meeting”, Lee replied that, “Yes, I have decided that today’s meeting is closed door.” He also repeatedly said that it is a must for the meeting to be closed door and reporters cannot cover the meeting, soon reporters were removed from the room.
After the meeting, reporter called and asked Sidney Lee why reporters were stopped from covering the meeting. Lee denied such doing, and said during the phone interview that, “I never said that reporters are not allowed to cover the meeting. This is not something that I said.” He said that he wanted to have the meeting room “temporarily cleared”, but journalists can reenter the room to cover the meeting afterward. However, the video taken at the meeting shows that Lee lied throughout the phone interview.
Sidney Lee said that the Working Group will be meeting again on 11th March, and all media are welcomed to attend. The Working Group, however, with the support of pro-China members, had passed the motion on 6th March to allocate USD17,000 of the public funding to a pro-China organisation.
A number of police officers were called to the meeting venue after one of the Working Group members called for emergency aid. When asked about Hui Chi-fung from Democratic Party was physically removed from the meeting room, Lee said in the interview that he never asked Hui to be removed. Hui, however, said that Lee was lying and did ask the police to remove him from the room, “it was all captured in the video.” Hui also said that after he was physically removed from the room, he tried to reenter the room to participate in the meeting and wanted to vote at the motion on which organisation will be allocated the public funding. However, over ten police officers stopped him from reentering the room, “at least ten police officers stood in front of the door and stopped me from going in. When I tried to open the door, they pulled me aside. This is outrageous!”
Democratic Party issued a statement soon after the incident, and condemned Lee who hosted the meeting and the police for their ungrounded violent behaviours. Albert Ho Chun-yan and James To Kun-sun of Democratic Party said that they will be meeting with the Commissioner of Police and seek legal advice on investigating the police’s action.
District Council meetings are typically open to the public including media. The information and meeting minutes of the above-mentioned meeting are opened to the public, hence, it is believed that there is no reason for the meeting to be closed door. The Commissioner of Police also failed to explain on what ground they have the rights to physically removed one of the Group members from the meeting.
Another video can be found here. District Council Ordinance does not specify that media is not allowed at its meetings, and traditionally reporters are free to cover any of the DC’s meetings.