The comments from Mr. Tang, Hong Kong’s top security official, came after the city’s prison service announced this month that he had carried out a surprise search of a women’s prison. Research found that six women had “prohibited items,” officials said. Local media reported that one of the women was a prominent pro-democracy activist. Aspects of the report were later confirmed by Woo Ying-ming, the head of the corrections department, in an interview with The South China Morning Post.
Prison officials had “received information in recent days” that some people had “tried to build up forces and incited others to participate,” according to a press release from the department. He did not disclose more information.
Later, Mr. Tang mentioned the hair clips and chocolates. At an independent press conference, he said the items were among the tactics used by some prisoners and their allies to undermine national security. Others, he said, understood the 612 Humanitarian Relief Fund’s practice of sending letters to detained protesters, urging them to “keep fighting”. Still others, he added, used their identities – as clergymen or local politicians, for example – as excuses to visit prisoners and then help them disseminate information.
His comments have since been echoed by other officials.
In his interview with the South China Morning Post, Woo said the guards had been tasked with producing daily reports on certain “influential figures” within the prison system. “This is how groups start, like terrorist groups that recruit followers,” Woo said of the support some detainees have, adding that the influence was “subliminal”.