Blind footballer’s death still a mystery as his best friends fight on to find the truth

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Almost one year on, the circumstances of the tragic death of Hong Kong’s first blind goal scorer remain a mystery. Those seeking justice for Lam Wing Shun (林榮順)’s death, tho discouraged, continue to march on.

While most of Hong Kong’s eyes were set on the Hong Kong – China World Cup qualifier on November 17, members of the Lam Wing Shun Concern Group stood outside the Mong Kok Stadium, handing out pamphlets explaining what happened to a talented young footballer on a sports ground not too far away one year ago.

Chiu Chi-wun (趙芷媛) is the convenor of the group and one of Terry Lam Wing-shun’s best friends before his untimely death. In the past year, she has been organising protests and liaising with parties to get to the bottom of Terry’s death. The Concern Group has been trying to pressure the Hong Kong Blind Sports Federation (HKBSF) into handing the video tapes of Terry’s final matches before his death to Terry’s family. Terry’s family would like to have copies of the video as a memento of Terry, and hope the tapes will reveal the events that led up to Terry’s death. Chi-wun and the group’s efforts have so far come to no avail.

Marching on

Outside the stadium, Terry’s story continues to be told through the amplifier carrying Chi-wun’s voice. When asked what has motivated the group to continue to march on, Chi-wun says, “We’re a group of [Terry’s] friends who all feel we can’t give up before justice has been achieved. We want to do what we can to our best abilities.”

In August, the group handed the signatures they collected to the Home Affairs Bureau. (photo by Michael Wong)

Ever since the incident caught the attention of the public in June, the Concern Group collected 8,696 signatures in a petition asking the Home Affairs Bureau to intervene. The petition was handed over to representatives of the Bureau on August 15. The Bureau has since refused to do so, claiming oversight of the HKBSF was outside their remit.

Read more: Arc of Tragedy: A young blind football star’s life ends in mystery

“To be honest, I’m quite disappointed towards the Blind Sports Federation and the Home Affairs office,” says Chi-wun. “HKBSF, in their publications and their statements to the media, have stated they would take on the hospital expenses and burial fees. But now, after a whole year, the family hasn’t received a cent!” According to Chi-wun, Terry’s remains still do not have a proper columbarium. His ashes are still placed temporarily with a coffin shop, which costs the family a few hundred dollars a month.

The Concern Group met with the Legislative Council’s Public Complaint Office. (Photo provided by Lam Wing Shun Concern Group)

In response to the Home Affairs Bureau’s reluctance to intervene, the group has met with the Legislative Council Public Complaint office for help in early September. The meeting was attended by Fernando Cheung (張超雄, GC – NT East, Labour Party), Alan Leong (梁家傑, GC – Kowloon East, Civic Party), Yiu Si-wing (姚思榮, FC – Tourism), Ma Fung-kwok (馬逢國, FC – Sports, Performing Arts, Culture and Publication), and Peter Cheung Kwok-che (張國柱, FC – Social Welfare, Labour Party). “Mostly, Fernando Cheung is helping us liaise with the Home Affairs Bureau. Some other legislators have been helping out as well. We’ve been trying directly liaise with the Home Affairs office ourselves, but it hasn’t had much success,” explains Chi-wun.

Justice delayed is justice denied

December 17 will be one year since Lam Wing Shun was sent to the hospital soon after representing Hong Kong in a 5-a-Side Blind Football Tournament organised by the HKBSF. He passed away a month later. A psychic medium, accompanied by HKBSF staff, then approached Terry’s family, trying to convince them that Terry’s death was the hospital’s fault. The reasons behind Terry’s death have remained a mystery and the HKBSF have been unwilling to disclose videos of the matches before Terry’s death, claiming the permission from the other teams would be needed.

In August, the Concern Group sent representatives to Malaysia to speak to leaders of the Malaysian Blind Sports Association (MBSA) to request them to give HKBSF their permission to release the tapes. According to the group, they were also able to gather signatures of representatives from different countries’ blind sports associations. These efforts have also not been successful.

The matter continues to be under police investigation, and their report will decide whether the case will go to Coroner’s Court. “The Coroner‘s Court is waiting for the police report, so we are more cautious as we do not want to violate the judicial process,” says Chi-wun.

According to Chi-wun, Terry’s family has not stepped out of the void of Terry’s death. Up till today, his mother’s encounter with the medium still haunts her as the medium claimed Terry was suffering in the afterlife. “There are many earnest citizens who have come to us asking what they could do to help. We hope to collect their messages of encouragement and hand them to Terry’s family.”

The group is planning to protest against the Government or the BSF on December 17, the day Terry was hospitalised, and January 6, the day he passed away.  It’s not clear what more we can do,” says Chi-wun. “The whole process has been quite discouraging, but we’ll keep going.”

Public support

So far, the Concern Group’s efforts have not been afforded the justice they believe Terry deserves. What they have achieved, is draw genuine support and sympathy from the public.

While Chi-wun was on the microphone, a young man named Ah Him (阿謙) was helping her hand out pamphlets to those heading to the match. Mr Him read about Terry’s story online and saw Chi-wun alone on the microphone handing out pamphlets on his way to the match, so he offered to lend a hand.

Ah Him volunteered to help the Concern Group on the night of the HK-China Football World Cup Qualifier. (Photo by Michael Wong)

“I hope to help them achieve justice,” says Ah Him. “Now that there’s a renaissance in Hong Kong football, I feel like Hong Kong people should offer the same respect, attention, and protection to other local athletes. Beyond finding out who’s responsible, we need to avoid something similar from happening again. Just as we protect so called ‘normal’ athletes, we should also ensure the safety of these athletes with disabilities when they represent Hong Kong.”

“I might not be able to do much,” he says, “but I’ll do what I can.”