Double standard fear as Ta Kung Pao charge nixed

Top News | Wallis Wang 18 Jun 2021

A Ta Kung Pao reporter was bound over yesterday after the prosecution withdrew a charge against him over improper car-plate searches he allegedly carried out last year.

Wong Wai-keung, 47, was charged with knowingly making a false statement to obtain a certificate under the Road Traffic Ordinance on August 15.

West Kowloon principal magistrate Ivy Chui Yee-mei placed Wong on a HK$2,000 good behavior bond for a year after the prosecution decided not to press a charge against him. Wong was also ordered to pay HK1,000 in legal fees.

A bind-over order is not a criminal record though the charge of making a false statement - which Wong faced - will be left on the court file.

The court heard that Ta Kung Pao reporters claimed to have been stalked by a car with the license plate WS7288 on August 15. Wong lodged a search application for information on the license plate the same day, claiming his request for the car owner's data was for "other traffic and transport-related matters."

The pro-Beijing newspaper published a top news story the following day, saying its reporters were stalked by a private car and harassed by then pro-democracy lawmaker Ted Hui Chi-fung and his supporters.

The car owner's name, written in both Chinese and English, as well as the car plate number, were included in the article.

Earlier, Bao Choy Yuk-ling, who committed the same offense, was convicted of improper searches of an online car license plate database and fined HK$6,000.

Senior public prosecutor Vincent Lee Ting-wai said in court yesterday that he also handled Choy's case and the prosecution applied the same standards in both cases.

Lee said the prosecution decided not to press a charge against Wong because he was a first-time offender and was employed by Ta Kung Pao at the time, adding that the case was a one-off incident.

When questioned by reporters outside court, Lee said: "I have said that we applied the same standards in both cases. As for the details, I cannot tell you what we have negotiated because Choy is appealing her case."

Choy, 37, was convicted of making improper searches when making RTHK's Hong Kong Connection documentary titled 7.21 Who Owns the Truth. The investigative piece was aimed at identifying thugs who carried out the 2019 Yuen Long mob attack.

Choy has filed an appeal against her conviction last month.

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