FactWire’s investigation confirms that a raid was conducted on March 19 at an unlicensed massage parlour in Wan Chai which rumours say is where the Director of National Security was found, suggesting that the top officer might have been visiting an unlicensed, sexual massage parlour on a working Friday afternoon.
The media first reported the scandal on May 12 that Frederic Choi, a senior assistant commissioner and the first ever Director of National Security in Hong Kong, was found in an unlicensed massage parlour during a raid by other members of the police force. Only after these reports were published did the police confirm the case, mentioning that the crackdown was conducted in ‘late March’ (in Chinese it specifically refers to the last ten days of March) at an unlicensed parlour in Wan Chai, suspected of involvement in sexual activities.
However, from the information FactWire gathered, the concerned crackdown took place on March 19. It contradicts what the police said regarding the raid happening ‘in the last ten days of March’.
The findings also show that two months had passed since the incident before the police revealed its details. The authorities did not comment on whether or not they were attempting to conceal the information from the public.
No further information regarding the exact date, time and location of the operation has yet been provided by the police. Rumours say that it took place at a massage parlour named ‘Viet Spa’ located in Senior Building, on Thomson Road of Wan Chai.
FactWire visited the spot and spoke with over a hundred people in its neighbourhood, confirming that a police operation did take place at Viet Spa in the afternoon of March 19, 2021.
According to a number of witnesses, the crackdown was conducted in the afternoon for four to five hours until dusk. At around 3.00pm that day, the police took a few females into their cars along with a few boxes of evidence. None of the witnesses saw any males being brought out. They added that there were only plainclothes officers and some private cars, without seeing any uniformed officers and police cars.
All of them said it was the first and only time they saw a crackdown of this kind at that spot.
Although most of the witnesses could not recall the exact date of the incident, one of them immediately notified his friend via WhatsApp when he saw that there was a police operation. Records on his phone show that it was Friday, March 19. The date, time, and content of the messages match the statements made by other witnesses.
According to a retired chief superintendent who wishes to stay anonymous, chief superintendents and officers of higher ranks work during ‘normal office hours’ on weekdays. There is no need for them to work in shifts. It means that Choi, as a senior assistant commissioner, might have been visiting an unlicensed massage parlour involving sexual activities during his office hours.
FactWire inquired the police about whether it was trying to conceal the date of the incident, and whether or not it is investigating Choi’s possible misconduct of visiting a sexual venue during office hours. It advised FactWire to refer to the press conference previously held by the Organised Crime and Triad Bureau, and said it has no further comment to the issue.
A person whom FactWire spoke to in Senior Building remembered seeing a ‘very obvious’ pink neon light box when Viet Spa opened in August 2018, which filled the entire T-shaped corridor of that floor with pink neon colour. Although the light was later softened, it was still obvious that the shop was involved in sexual activities.
‘A price list used to be posted outside the shop,’ he said, ‘it was removed along with that neon light box only after the crackdown.’ He pointed out that Viet Spa continued its business for a while after the crackdown, until its sign was changed into ‘Daisy Spa’ in late March. The shop stopped its operation only recently when the incident about Choi broke.
FactWire obtained a photo of Viet Spa’s price list previously posted. The services listed include aromatherapy massage, Chinese medicine massage, Thai Jabkasai massage, head neck care and lymph drainage, etc.
In addition, at least nine threads on an online sexual forum, dated from February 2019 to May of this year, suggest that Viet Spa had been providing sexual services in various forms. These include masturbation, allowing customers to touch the naked bodies of staff, and taking baths with the staff.
Business registration records show that Viet Spa opened in August 2018 by a person surnamed Wu. Its business nature states it is a massage parlour. Wu also owns at least two other businesses in Wan Chai of the same stated nature, namely ‘Vietnam Ha Long Bay Spa’ (name translated from Chinese) in Thompson Building and ‘Ming Nga Hin Massage’ (name translated from Chinese).
In addition, Wu owns Healthy Beauty Square on 427 Lockhart Road. Although its business nature is registered as ‘trading of cosmetics and healthy products’, information from its Facebook page suggests that it also provides massage services.
After the scandal broke on the morning of May 12, the Commissioner of Police Chris Tang told the media in the afternoon that the Organised Crime and Triad Bureau had taken charge to investigate whether or not Choi had committed any misconduct. He mentioned that Choi was on leave after the incident and that he did not receive a resignation from Choi.
Ryan Wong, Chief Superintendent of the Organised Crime and Triad Bureau, then met with the press on May 18 to give brief details of the crackdown where Choi was found. He said, according to the Bureau’s primary investigation, Choi has neither been found breaching the law, violating rules, nor involved in any immoral behaviour. A police spokesman clarified afterwards that Choi was only confirmed to not have conducted any illegal or immoral acts. A disciplinary investigation would still have to be conducted to evaluate whether Choi had violated any rules.
Since Choi is regarded as a gazetted police officer, he is appointed, interdicted, suspended or dismissed according to the terms of the Public Service (Administration) Order and the Public Service (Disciplinary) Regulation. Any case in which a disciplinary hearing is required would be handed to the Civil Service Bureau for follow up.
The Civil Service Bureau said in its response to FactWire’s inquiries, that according to the mechanism, the Police Force would first make a primary investigation when a senior police officer is suspected of misconduct. Only if the force believes there is enough evidence contributing to a disciplinary proceeding would the case be referred to the Secretariat on Civil Service Discipline, a division under the Civil Service Bureau.
As for questions regarding Choi’s visit to an unlicensed parlour during office hours, the Civil Service Bureau refused to answer by saying that individual cases are not normally disclosed as to protect personal information and privacy.
FactWire also enquired the Department of Justice and the Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC), about whether or not visiting a sexual venue during office hours is considered ‘misconduct in public office’ or a violation of the Prevention of Bribery Ordinance. FactWire also asked if the ICAC would be responsible for the investigation in such cases. Both departments refused to comment on specific cases. ICAC stressed that it would handle corruption complaints according to set procedures if there is enough information.