SCMP: Cult leader defends danger cure ( 25 July, 1996)


The leader of the Church of Zion cult yesterday admitted some of his followers had become ill after drinking hydrogen peroxide but said it was their fault.

The Reverend Leung Yat-wah, whose cult has 2,000 followers, still promotes drinking the chemical which health officials say can cause serious harm. Cultists who became ill failed to take the right dosage, he said.

‘I, Leung Yat-wah, in charge of the Church of Zion, have taught our church followers about hydrogen peroxide therapy and the right dosage of the chemical, which is a powerful tonic to improve health and bodily strength,’ he said.

‘Users who experienced side effects after taking hydrogen peroxide did not follow the full instructions and used the chemical improperly.’ At least one cult follower had to be admitted to Kwong Wah Hospital last week after drinking the chemical, and others have complained about vomiting, stomach ache and skin problems.

Mr Leung’s statement continued: ‘Some people know nothing about hydrogen peroxide therapy, making inaccurate guesses and causing public unease. Some even believe the chemical is dangerous. I had not anticipated this.’ At the same time, Mr Leung claimed public swimming pools contained hydrogen peroxide as a disinfectant to kill micro-organisms, yet the Government did not consider its presence in pools a health risk.

‘Even science students in secondary schools know this elementary scientific fact. Our Government loves its citizens, and it would be impossible for it to do anything to endanger their safety.’ However, his claim was immediately dismissed as nonsense by senior university and government chemists.

An Urban Services Department official in charge of public swimming pools said his department did not use it in public pools.

Yesterday, more than 10 churches in Fanling and Sheung Shui announced they would meet this Sunday to consider their response to the Church of Zion.

Many of the Church of Zion members live in a village near Fanling and other churches are concerned that their members have been leaving to join the controversial sect which was established in Hong Kong several years ago.

Mr Leung has promised to explain at a press conference later today why he advocates drinking the chemical despite the warnings.

Tests carried out this week showed the hydrogen peroxide used by the cult was a 40 per cent concentration. The concentrate available in shops is three per cent.