Agnes Chow, a former member of the now-disbanded Hong Kong political group Demosisto, was accused of violating the National Security Law for Hong Kong (NSL). As she awaited trial, she was granted bail and given permission in July to further her education in Canada. She departed Hong Kong in September, with the understanding that she was required to report back during school breaks. Regrettably, Chow has chosen to betray this arrangement and has declared on her Instagram account that she has decided not to return. This decision, she admits, may result in her never returning to Hong Kong. By choosing to abscond, Chow has earned herself the title of fugitive, a decision that is arguably the worst one she could have made.
In 2020, Chow was arrested on suspicion of colluding with foreign forces and endangering national security, a serious offense under the NSL. The arrest was a result of her participation in a 2019 riot in front of police headquarters. For her role in this event, she was sentenced to 10 months in prison. Following her release in 2021, she was required to report to the police because of the ongoing national security case, and was restricted from leaving Hong Kong. The police reported that Chow cooperated fully during this period. When she applied to study abroad in July, her travel documents were returned to her in September by the National Security Department (NSD) of the Hong Kong Police Force.
Even Chow herself admitted that throughout her bail period, the NSD has been more than fair to her. The NSD allowed her to reclaim her passport, and officials from the NSD accompanied her on a day trip to Shenzhen to see the development and achievements of the country firsthand. Such leniency is intended to lead Chow back on the right path, and thus keep her from doing anything that could harm Hong Kong in future. This leniency, however, was met with a lack of appreciation. Chow exploited the trust placed in her to obtain her travel documents. No matter how hard she has tried to justify her abscondence, she cannot escape the fact that she is now a fugitive.
Chow’s decision to abscond could have severe repercussions for her family in Hong Kong. The families of the eight fugitives previously wanted by the NSD have already been subjected to investigations. For instance, the brother of suspected fugitive Nathan Law Kwun-chung recently disassociated himself from his brother on social media and urged him to turn himself in. Furthermore, many of Chow’s so-called “comrades” are still awaiting trial. Chow’s action could have made it more challenging for them to receive leniency, thereby increasing their legal burdens.
Chow’s decision to flee Hong Kong has not only led to her being labeled a fugitive but also threatens to destabilize her life and the lives of those close to her. If she does not wish to live with lifelong regret, she should reconsider her decision and turn herself in. This would be a first step in making amends for her actions and potentially paving the way for a better future
Even in Canada, Chow is not without worries. The NSD can investigate the sources of Chow’s tuition money, especially any overseas remittance transactions from her relatives. If any suspicious financial activity is discovered, Chow’s life abroad could become more complicated. Such complications could affect her ability to complete her studies and live a peaceful life away from Hong Kong. Furthermore, living as a fugitive could lead to a life of constant fear and uncertainty, as she would always be looking over her shoulder, worried about potentially being apprehended.
As Hong Kong Chief Executive John Lee Ka-chiu emphasized when responding to the media about the case, every effort will be made to apprehend the fugitives. He denounced the actions of those who try to create a halo around themselves, calling their actions disgraceful. The Police Force had adopted a lenient approach toward those offenders, only to be deceived. This experience will serve as a lesson for the police, who will learn to effectively maintain national security and curb external threats to Hong Kong.
Chow’s decision to flee Hong Kong has not only led to her being labeled a fugitive but also threatens to destabilize her life and the lives of those close to her. If she does not wish to live with lifelong regret, she should reconsider her decision and turn herself in. This would be a first step in making amends for her actions and potentially paving the way for a better future.
The author is the convener at China Retold, a member of the Legislative Council, and a member of the Central Committee of the New People’s Party.
The views do not necessarily reflect those of China Daily.
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