Thursday, 10 March 2016

Missing Bookseller Saga a Page Turner

Why did Lee Po sign over the running of the bookstore to a mystery man?
We can't even keep up with what's been happening with the missing bookseller saga -- it just keeps going in such bizarre directions that even the most creative spy thriller novelist couldn't make this up.

The latest? The two booksellers who came back to Hong Kong earlier this week? They literally came back for a few hours and then went straight back across the border again.

Lui Por came back last Friday, and Cheung Chi-ping on Sunday, both telling local authorities they didn't need any help from the Hong Kong government or the police and then returned to the mainland, according to dissident poet Bei Ling, who is a friend of Lee Po and trying to do his own investigation.

Two booksellers returned to HK then went back to Shenzhen
"Their return to Hong Kong was only to tell police to drop the case on them, nothing else," Bei said. "They returned to Shenzhen in a hurry probably because that's where they have to be on bail. Besides, that's where their families are."

And then we find out Lee Po had signed over the running of Causeway Bay Books for six months to a mysterious man named Chan.

In the agreement signed in November, Chan would cover the operating costs and pay the HK$39,000 monthly rent. Lee signed it because he needed someone to cover the costs because the bookstore was losing HK$20,000 a month.

But according to Woo Chih-wai, one of the last employees to work at the bookstore until all five booksellers disappeared, Chan didn't seem to want to keep the business and wanted to shut it down.

Woo Chih-wai is concerned about the booksellers and the store
Woo found it troubling that Lee's wife Sophie gave Chan the keys to the Chai Wan warehouse even though the property was hers, and she was willing to give up the bookstore and warehouse just to get her husband back.

Chan didn't seem to care much for the business, according to Woo, who said he didn't stay long in the store, and had a young woman run it, who didn't seem to care much for the books either.

Woo said on the day Lee went missing, the three of them were supposed to have dinner, but Chan didn't show any concern, but the following day said the store would not operate much longer.

The mystery continues to baffle us, mostly because we can't even predict what's going to happen. We want the saga to end, though the effects will reverberate Hong Kong for a long, long time.

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