School Bullies of Hong Kong

Historically, Japan is the country in which instances of the bullying of young school children by their peers are documented most often.  The Japanese Ministry of Education defines 'bullying' as physical and/or psychological attacks against the weaker and more vulnerable, and collects data on bullying cases as reported by teachers.  There are tens of thousands of such cases reported each year, usually with some very notorious instances.

The bullying phenomenon involves four groups: the victims, the victimizers, the audience and the bystanders.  The victimizers pounce on a victim while the audience watch and cheer and the bystanders stood back and do nothing.  As disturbing as the physical act of bullying is, it is disconcerting to have many more people who act as the audience and the bystanders.  Without their support or duplicitious silence, the bullying acts would not be possible.

There is absolutely nothing that says that school bullying occurs only in Japan.  It happens elsewhere, perhaps with less frequency and/or less publicity.  Less publicity?  When such incidents occur, it may be disturbing to highlight some anomalous and appalling behavior, and it might be preferrable to gloss over it as being aberrant, atypical and unrepresentative.

The following Hong Kong story was reported in The Sun on March 16, 2005.  This is not fictional, because it is based upon testimony given in an open court.  However, I have not been able to find this story in the online editions of the local English-language or other Chinese-language newspapers.  The story is so outrageous in its elements of sadism that it is preferrable not to engage the beautiful minds of the citizens, or to ruin the public image of the Fragrant Harbour.

Here is my translation of the news report.

The victim is a 16-year-old boy, who is a new immigrant from China living in the Tuen Men district of Hong Kong.  The two defendants are 15-year-old and 16-year-old schoolmates of the victim, and they have been charged with eight counts that included being members of a triad society, soliciting another person to join a triad society, and assaults that resulted in serious physical injuries to another person.

According to the victim's testimony, he enrolled at Shumpui Secondary School on September 2000.  In June, 2001, the victim encountered the two defendants on the street and they asked him if "he followed anyone" (note: this is the common parlance to identify triad membership).  The victim said that he preferred not to join anyone.  At that point, the second defendant identified himself as a member of a certain triad gang based in Tsimshatsui and asked the victim to join his gang . When the victim refused resolutely, the second defendant said that the victim must receive ten punches. The second defendant then proceeded to administer the punches.

In September 2002, the victim as well as the two defendants were both held back in class, and they became classmates.  The second defendant volunteered to the teacher to become the math tutor for the victim, and thereafter he showed up frequently at the victim's apartment.

Those remedial math lessons included punishments such as electrocution with an electric mosquito swatter as well as strangling until the victim passed out and lost control of his bodily functions.  In December 2002, the two defendants forced the victim to take part in a robbery.  When the robbery failed, the defendants carved the Chinese word (which implies 'lowliness') on the victim's leg with a knife, and then applied hot pepper sauce on the wound.  The victim then tried to avoid meeting the two defendants thereafter.

In October 2003, the victim encountered the two defendants again at the the Tuen Men public swimming pool.  The second defendant ordered the victim to leap down from the roof of a gazebo.  The victim jumped but not to the satisfaction of the defendants.  When the victim refused to jump again, he was hit in the face with a shoe and then burned on his left forearm with a lit cigarette.

Later that day, the defendants took the victim back to his apartment.  They tied his hands up with a nylon cord and then pushed his lower body outside the window.  The victim dangled there for some time before he was pulled back in.  The defendants then pulled down the victim's pants and applied a red-hot iron spanner onto his butt.  The victim recalled hearing the sizzling sound of his flesh burning and the laughter of the two defendants.  Then the defendants took the victim into the bathroom and thrusted a lit cigarette into his anus.  They then ordered the victim to expel the cigarette butt.  Afterwards, the second defendant warned the victim that it would get even worse the next time.

On October 26, 2004, the two defendants showed up at the victim's apartment again.  At the sight of the two, the victim freaked out completely and his mother had to call an ambulance to take him to the hospital.  It was then that the details of the case were revealed.

At the trial, the two defendants have denied all the charges.

Two questions are on my mind.  First, where do these kids (and they are still minors) get their fervid imaginations from?  Shall we blame the Class "4" movie VCDs/DVDs again?  Or the Internet?  Second, should the beautiful minds of the readers of the South China Morning Post and The Standard be shielded from such filth?  We report, you decide.