'Doable' for Hong Kong to seek independence: Bookseller Lam Wing-kee

19 Jun 2016
By Wei Du      Channel NewsAsia

HONG KONG: The Hong Kong bookseller who broke silence on Thursday about being interrogated in detention in China, said he had weighed the pros and cons before deciding to speak. His decision to break his silence sparked public furore in the process.

In a one-on-one interview with Channel NewsAsia's Wei Du on Sunday (Jun 19), Lam Wing-kee said he was not surprised to hear that his girlfriend and associates had spoke out against him. He also spoke of Hong Kong・s political future.

WEI DU: After you gave the interview on Thursday, your associates and girlfriend have told the media that you were not telling the truth. They used some strong words. Are you surprised?

LAM WING-KEE: They were speaking in an abnormal environment. You know what that means? They were not acting on free will. If I refute them point by point, it・ll do them harm, because everything they・ve said is against their own will. They have a lot on the line, I don・t want to refute them anymore.

WEI: Do you worry the damage is already done?

LAM: I expected this. When I decided to speak out, I weighed the pros and cons. It・s harmed them, it・s harmed me. My girlfriend is still there, but I・ll never see her again in future. The other ones, their cases are pretty much decided on, so the damage is not so great, probably not greater than the harm to myself. But it・s a different case for the people of Hong Kong. It・s important that someone stands up and fights, because many people are too afraid to say anything. I had to make the compromise.

WEI: You said you expect not to see your girlfriend again?

LAM: That・s right. I can・t go back anymore, and she will never be able to come here. I hope the Chinese government treats them better. Don・t treat them badly because of me.

WEI: You said Lee Bo (one of the other booksellers) told you he was abducted in Hong Kong. If that could happen to him, are you worried about your safety in Hong Kong now?

LAM: When he was abducted in Hong Kong, maybe it was because mainland authorities didn・t expect the reaction in Hong Kong to be so strong. It crossed the line for Hong Kongers, so the reaction was strong. Maybe they didn・t see that.

WEI: So you think it・s different now?

LAM: It is different. They weren・t too smart.

WEI: You think you are safe in Hong Kong?

LAM: Yes. After Lee Bo, they won・t be so blatant.

WEI: You were interrogated for eight months. During that time, did you find out what they wanted to know the most?

LAM: Sources for the books. Where the information came from. That・s what they wanted to know.

WEI: What are we supposed to make of the books by Mighty Current (the publishing house)?

LAM: Mighty Current published books to make money. You don・t have to understand why. If there was a profit to be made in a book, it・d be published. It・s all business. The books are often plagiarised. Sometimes they are truthful, sometimes not.

WEI: Many young people in Hong Kong think the "One Country, Two Systems" won・t work out. The best way forward is-

LAM: Independence. My personal opinion, and I am not afraid to say, is that it・s doable. In a marriage, if the man treats the woman badly, the woman will leave. It・s normal. She wants her happiness too. The Communist party wants to control everyone, but it・s not elected, it has no legitimacy. It has no respect for human rights. So when people demand independence, they have a reason. It・s the same for Hong Kong.