Radio silence

I’ve been in remand since March 28, 2022, nearly two years now. My case involves myself and another defendant, a high school classmate. We face four charges, including “trafficking in dangerous drugs,” with the case involving 1.5 kg of heroin.

I intend to plead guilty. Someone informed the police about the mastermind behind this case earlier. The police first approached me in mid-October, but they didn’t take a statement then. They asked me to provide substantial evidence and information to aid their investigation. I later sent a letter to the police on November 13 and another to the Department of Justice on November 16, requesting to give my statement. The police visited me and took my statement on November 23. They mentioned that my “boss” had implicated me. My boss was arrested in mid-October 2023 in connection with another drug trafficking case and is currently in detention. There were news reports concerning my case between March 22 and 27, 2022.

The incident occurred on March 22 to the 26 at a luxury hotel in Tsim Sha Tsui East. On the same day, the police identified another male and female suspect. Out of fear that this man might harm my family, I told the police at the station he was my friend. On that day, this man hired a prominent lawyer to accompany me during my statement. My statement simply read, “I have nothing to say.”

I’m the second of four children. My parents run a respectable seafood business that supports our family. My older sister is a senior clerk, my younger sister works in a bank, and my younger brother is a fitness instructor. All of them have stable, well-paying jobs.

I, on the other hand, have had a challenging path. I struggled from an early age, even repeating the first grade. I often felt different from other kids and had a rebellious streak. My troubles escalated in secondary school when I began using drugs and smoking.

Regardless of my actions, my family has always shown me love and support. They never gave up on me. I continued my education until Form 5, which is equivalent to 11th grade, before my struggles intensified.

During my studies from Form 3 to Form 5, I held a part-time job working at a fast-food restaurant. After finishing Form 5, I spent a year working as a cashier and bartender. From 2002 to 2009, I was employed as a customer service representative at a telecommunications company. However, severe skin conditions like eczema and psoriasis required me to take large quantities of steroid medication, disrupting my work and daily life. Consequently, I spent most of my time at home. In 2012, I was convicted of trafficking dangerous drugs and sent to a drug rehabilitation center. However, following an appeal from the Department of Justice, I was transferred to a correctional institution where I served an additional year until my release in January 2016.

Between 2016 and 2017, I held a position as a salesperson at a mobile phone case store in a popular shopping street for a year. But after that, I have not had any formal employment.

In the drug trafficking case, I was motivated by the prospect of earning fast money and agreed to get involved in the transaction. However, after a few instances, I chose to stop. I asked the mastermind behind the drug operation to collect the remaining drugs. Despite my request, no one came to retrieve them, and the drugs stayed in my home for more than a week.

I warned the drug boss that if no one came for the drugs, I would flush them down the toilet. Unable to keep the drugs at my home any longer, I sought the assistance of the co-defendant in this case to remove the drugs. I deeply regret my actions and the resulting consequences, all of which occurred for an insignificant amount of fast money.

Life here is starkly different from the outside world.

I’ve been in remand for nearly two years. During this time, my father hasn’t visited me. Six months ago, my sister told me that he developed problems with both knees and couldn’t walk. He underwent a surgery costing a lot of money. Before my remand, I visited them weekly for dinner. Now, I’ve learned from my family that my father’s recovery still has a way to go, and he relies on a cane for daily mobility.

I’ve attended counselling several times. Many individuals here have their problems, emotions, and worries which aren’t easily shared. Whenever I talk about my family, I often find myself in tears. Since my arrival on March 22, which coincided with the pandemic outbreak, I’ve had to quarantine for 7 to 14 days each time. I was selected to assist with various tasks during this period. Unknowingly, I’ve been working here for over a year and a half, keeping busy every day to prevent idle thoughts.

Early on I had requested my family to send me money for a radio. However, I haven’t used it in a while because hearing my favorite songs triggers a flood of memories, often leading to silent tears in the middle of the night. I’m afraid of the deep pain of missing my loved ones.

Life here is starkly different from the outside world. I’ve signed up for four university courses. Sometimes I struggle to comprehend the subject, but what was easily researched online in the past, here, the information I need is often inaccessible, leading to frustration. This provokes a wave of emotions and internal conflicts, leaving me feeling helpless and anxious.

I have one friend who visits me from time to time, but his help depends on his mood. Last year, he came over every day, but we often ended up in arguments. He hoped for my quick release, but I view him strictly as a friend and don’t want him to spend his time waiting for me.

My mother is already overwhelmed and tired from taking care of my father. I have presbyopia, but there are no adequate eyeglasses with my prescription available here. My friend promised to buy me a new pair in July last year and deliver it before the Chinese New Year. Unfortunately, I’m still waiting. Reading with the wrong prescription gives me headaches.

I have a fondness for children and cats. Seeing them on TV triggers memories of my past experiences outside. Had I not committed a crime and ended up here, I could have pursued many of my desired activities.

Note: This story is a combination of three letters, originally written in Chinese. It has been translated and redacted. Switch language to read the original.