Stop exploiting tragic teen's death

Editorial | Mary Ma 18 Oct 2019

Rest in peace, Chan Yin-lam. It's absolutely heart-breaking that someone should die so young.

Chan's death not only upset people who did not even know her, it also unleashed anger among anti-government protesters.

The discovery of the naked body of the 15-year-old - a protest sympathizer - in the sea off Yau Tong last month fueled speculation that she may have been murdered by police.

It was not the first time police had been accused of killing protesters. On August 31, members of the Special Tactical Squad - known as Raptors - stormed Prince Edward MTR station and flushed out all reporters.

That night's operation - since dubbed "the August 31 incident" - has been dogged with speculation that at least three protesters were unaccounted for.

Chan's mother said last night she believed her daughter had committed suicide and asked skeptics to give the family peace. Police also believe Chan committed suicide - an account readily disputed by some Hong Kong public.

This is the sorry state into which Hong Kong has descended since the violence between protesters and police escalated after several massive peaceful demonstrations against the now-withdrawn extradition bill that would have allowed the SAR to hand over fugitives to the mainland.

Following more than four months of violent protests and the brutal police crackdown, nearly everyone has become partially blind - able to see only what they want to know and refusing to believe what they dislike - whether they wear "black" or "blue."

Yesterday the Vocational Training Council, which operates the Tiu King Leng school where Chan studied and last appeared, urged the coroner's court be opened as soon as possible to investigate the student's death after the school building was vandalized by protesters.

I totally agree with VTC that it is extremely important for the coroner to hold an urgent public hearing into Chan's death so that all questions - whether merited or otherwise - are answered orderly and systematically.

Only the truth can put off the fire and the coroner's court is the best place for this to happen.

It was encouraging to see VTC taking the right step of releasing via its intranet more CCTV video footage showing the movement of a young woman appearing to be Chan. The school operator's concern that releasing the clips may violate the privacy of others in the video was unfounded. While other people could be readily blurred to protect their identities, those clips could help end speculation and put the matter in the proper perspective for public understanding.

Will the coroner's court be convened early to probe Chan's death after the tragic incident generated so much public interest? I sincerely hope so as it is paramount to let truth prevail at this volatile moment of information and disinformation.

Perhaps the MTR Corporation should consider following VTC's example and release the full CCTV records showing what happened on the night of August 31 inside Prince Edward station to put to rest all kinds of warranted and unwarranted speculation.

It would also be in the interest of the force to let MTRC do so since, if it did nothing wrong there, the truth can help restore its credibility.

Let's all abide by the truth. At the same time, everyone - regardless of colors - please stop exploiting the tragic death of young Chan Yin-lam.

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