Lau urges amendments to legal aid legislation

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 24 September, 1994, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 24 September, 1994, 12:00am

ACTIVIST Lau Shan-ching yesterday called for amendments to the Legal Aid Ordinance to allow candidates to receive legal aid when making an election petition.

Speaking at the eve of the launch of a fund-raising campaign to finance his legal action, Mr Lau said the excluding of election petitions from legal aid coverage could result in the abuse of candidates' rights.

The pro-democracy activist was barred from the district board election because he failed to fulfil the 10-year residency rule in the Electoral Provisions Ordinance.

Despite repeated appeals to the court to overturn the ruling, he was told that the proper way was for him to lodge an election petition in the two weeks after the election.

The legal cost of an election petition is estimated at $500,000.

He was granted legal aid for the appeal, but was told that there would be no legal aid for an election petition, which was exempted from coverage under the Legal Aid Ordinance.

'I am not sure whether I could raise the $500,000 within such a short time, but we would have to try,' he said.

Calling the exclusion 'unreasonable', Mr Lau urged the Government to scrap the exemption on the granting of legal aid for election petitions.

Mr Lau said because of the lack of financial assistance, it would be extremely difficult for candidates to uphold their civil rights.

He is going to pursue the case with the Governor, Chris Patten, as well as the legislative Council when its meetings resume next month.