Police pledge thorough probe in student’s death
The Hong Kong Police Force pledged on Friday to spare no effort in its investigation into the death of a Hong Kong University of Science and Technology student — an incident that has raised public attention.
Police also expressed great sorrow and sadness over the student’s death and offered deep condolences to the family and friends of the deceased.
In the early hours of Monday, Chow Tsz-lok, 22, fell from the third floor of a parking garage in Tseung Kwan O to its second floor. He died at about 8 am on Friday.
According to Queen Elizabeth Hospital, which confirmed the student’s death, Chow suffered a severe brain injury in the fall.
The police vowed to conduct a thorough investigation of the death at a news briefing on Friday. The case is under the jurisdiction of the Kowloon East regional crime unit. The force recommended a death inquest and pledged all information about Chow’s death will be heard in an open court.
In refuting rumors circulating on the internet about the death, Foo Yat-ting, senior superintendent of the Hong Kong Police Force’s Kowloon East Region, said police never chased or pushed Chow in the Sheung Tak structure where the tragic fall took place.
It was only after officers have arrived at the second floor of the parking structure, where fire service officers were giving first aid to Chow, that the situation came to their knowledge, she added.
Ewing Wu Ka-yan, superintendent of the Police (Operations) Crime Kowloon East Regional Police Headquarters, said that no plainclothes officers had been dispatched to the Tseung Kwan O district on Sunday night.
Aware of the online calls for protest over Chow’s death, the police appealed to the public to stay calm and rational to avoid chaos or similar tragedy.
The police called on the public to provide information pertinent to the case to help police uncover the truth as it set out to “steadfastly investigate the incident with fairness and justice”.
The incident has raised much concern in a city that has been battered by five months of riots. On Friday, a government spokesman expressed great sorrow and regret over the death of the student and extended his sympathy to his family.
The HKUST also expressed deep sadness over the death of the student and extended sympathies to
the family, while calling on students to remain calm and exercise restraint at this sad time to avoid further conflicts and tragedies.
President Wei Shyy suspended the morning session of the graduation ceremony for one minute to mourn Chow. With the campus tense and as a mark of respect to the deceased student, the HKUST canceled the following scheduled graduation ceremony and suspended classes in the afternoon.
Later in the afternoon, in an email to the whole school, Shyy demanded a thorough and independent investigation into the death of Chow. He said the school has established a portal for people to submit related evidence. Shyy also called on everyone to stay calm.
However, at the same time, masked protesters clad in black flooded the HKUST campus. After 2 pm, they started defacing structures and went on a spree of vandalism across the school campus. The HKUST president’s residence, plus Starbucks outlets, Bank of China branches and other facilities bore the brunt of their ire.
Jay Wang, 24, a PhD candidate at the university’s School of Science, said he mourned Chow’s death.
Wang didn’t know the deceased student personally but joined the president to mourn Chow when the graduation ceremony opened in the morning.
Wang worried that Chow’s death might add to current tensions and said he hopes students on campus will stay safe. He condemned some radicals and students who chose to exploit the tragedy for political gain.
Wang resented how they used Chow’s death to spread rumors and unleashed violence against the school and the government. “Is this really the way to champion human rights?” he asked.
A professor at the HKUST who required anonymity for safety concerns said that according to his knowledge of the matter, Chow’s parents said they hoped the public would respect their privacy, and hoped the media and students would not exploit him as a “political victim”.
The professor strongly condemned students who vandalized the campus. He said that, to some degree, this shows the failure of Hong Kong’s education.
“It’s unfortunate that the HKUST has become what it is today,” the professor said. He called on all educators to reflect on what has led Hong Kong to today’s chaos.