Beijing retreat after London attack

Top News | Cindy Wan 4 Dec 2019

Secretary for Justice Teresa Cheng Yeuk-wah will resume work in Hong Kong today after returning yesterday from a trip to Beijing to check her left wrist. Her disappearance for the past two weeks has raised questions.

Cheng injured her left wrist in a fall when encountering dozens of protesters in London on November 14 during an official trip. She was discharged from a Beijing hospital and returned to Hong Kong yesterday.

Speaking to the media at Chek Lap Kok, Cheng said she was pushed to the ground when protesters surrounded her on her way to give a talk for the Chartered Institute of Arbitrators in London.

"It was fortunate that the security guard pulled me up immediately, or else I would have suffered from more attacks," she said.

Her wrist was fractured and partly dislocated in the fall, and the doctor said it would take three months to a year to fully recover, she said. "The hand is of course painful, but it is more painful in the heart to see Hong Kong in the state we are in. This disorderly behavior to me is even more painful than my arm."

She had open reduction and internal fixation surgery to repair the broken bone in a London hospital, during which the dislocated parts were connected with a titanium plate and screws.

She flew to Beijing for further treatment under an arrangement with the Chinese embassy in London, Cheng said. She did not say when she flew to China.

She expressed gratitude to the central government and Beijing leaders for the arrangement before detailing her injuries.

On why she flew to Beijing instead of returning to Hong Kong for medical treatment, Cheng said: "The embassy arranged for me to go to Beijing, the capital of our country."

Cheng disappeared from the public eye after meeting Chinese ambassador Liu Xiaoming in London on November 20 and her office refused to disclose her whereabouts.

She was asked by reporters whether it was appropriate for a major government official to keep her whereabouts a secret for almost two weeks. "I was on sick leave. I was taking a rest and waiting for my wrist to recover," she said. "I left the hospital in Beijing and immediately returned to Hong Kong."

She was in close communication with her colleagues by e-mail during the period.

The media was notified to wait for Cheng at the airport's Government VIP Lounge by 5.30pm, but Cheng did not show up until 6.30pm. She spoke for about five minutes and left after answering only three questions.

Chief Executive Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor said the secretary for justice was still on sick leave. Lam would not disclose private details before attending the Executive Council yesterday.

Lawmaker Lam Cheuk-ting said Cheng deserves her right to have sick leave, but she should have let citizens know how long she was taking, especially at a time when many people are being prosecuted for protesting.

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