The Hong Kong Design Institute (HKDI) has failed to shed light on the mysterious death of a 15-year-old student who had reportedly participated in anti-extradition bill protests.
Chan Yin-lam, a newly-admitted HKDI student, was last seen by her friends in Mei Foo Sun Chuen in Kowloon at 2:15 pm on September 19, Apple Daily reported on October 11. Ten minutes later, she sent a short message to her friend saying she was going home. The teen never arrived.
On September 22, the marine police found a naked female body floating in a pool of water in Yau Tong. On September 24, the police published a public notice regarding its search for Chan on behalf of her parents.
On October 9, police confirmed that it was Chan’s body. On October 10, her body was cremated by her parents.
Chan, who was a strong swimmer and diver, had joined an anti-extradition protest on June 12 and another at Hong Kong International Airport in August, according to her friends.
After the report was published, Kong Wing-cheung, senior superintendent (media liaison and communication) of the Police Public Relations Branch, Hong Kong Police Force, said the police had ruled out foul play in Chan’s death. Kong said Chan committed suicide, pointing to the fact that she was captured by HKDI’s CCTV units walking barefoot toward the Tseung Kwan O Waterfront Park.
Citing a preliminary investigation and an autopsy, Kong said there was no sign of sexual assault on Chan’s body or other injuries, Kong said.
“I could confirm that she had not been arrested in any cases relating to the recent social unrest, but for whether she had been arrested before I could not tell you more because of the personal data privacy consideration,” said Kong, adding that the rumor that the police had killed Chan and disposed of her body was baseless.
On the same day, a group of HKDI students urged the institute to release the CCTV footage of Chan by 12:30 pm on Monday.
On Monday morning, about a hundred students gathered at the HKDI campus to call for a meeting with the institute’s management at 12:30pm. The management said there were some privacy issues surrounding the release of CCTV footage but they agreed to return at 3 pm.
Between 3pm and 4pm, students and managers engaged in a long debate about how and what could be released. At around 4:30 pm, two videos were shown to about 100 students and reporters. Some reporters ran live broadcasts on social media.
According to a 27-second video, Chan walked into elevator 11 on the ground floor at 5:50 pm on September 19 and went up. She was holding a piece of paper and another object. A man entered the elevator. HKDI’s management refused to show the remaining video for privacy reasons.
In another one-minute video, Chan was seen walking outside the campus at 6:59 pm. It was unclear whether she was barefoot.
Joseph Leung Hing-pong, vice principal of the Hong Kong Design Institute and the Hong Kong Institute of Vocational Education (Lee Wai Lee Campus), said a bag of Chan’s belongings was picked up by a woman and a man on level 2 of block B at around 8 pm. They took the bag to the institute’s reception desk and left.
The woman who picked up the bag appeared at the rally on Monday afternoon. She confirmed the time and place cited by Leung. She said the bag contained HK$20-30 cash and a student card, which was not a HKDI one. She said it also contained a mobile phone with a plain wallpaper, and she thought it was strange that the phone did not contain a SIM card.
The crowd of close to 1,000 people was not satisfied with the two short videos. They complained that one of the videos had been edited. At 5:30 pm, they demanded to see more with a projector in the public area by 6 pm. The management agreed but they, together with a legal expert, missed the deadline by 10 minutes.
Masked students became furious and began breaking glass panels, CCTV cameras and fire sprinklers on the campus. HKDI managers left immediately after arriving for safety reasons. No police officers had arrived by the time all masked people at the scene had fled.