Lawmaker and Executive Council member Jeffrey Lam Kin-fung on Monday pleaded not guilty to driving dangerously on the way to a cut-price music festival that coincided with the July 1 pro-democracy march.
Lam’s counsel Juliana Chow Hoi-ling told Kwun Tong Court her client would have been prepared to plead guilty to the original charge of careless driving, but prosecutor Esther Mak Wai-ling said the prosecution had decided to proceed with the more serious charge on the advice of the Department of Justice.
Acting Principal Magistrate Don So Man-lung set the date of the one-day trial for January 6. The prosecution plans to call six witnesses to testify against the 61-year-old politician.
Chow said the trial would focus on legal arguments, rather than the facts of the case.
At a hearing in September, the court heard that Lam was seen driving on the wrong side of the road for 15 to 17 metres at the junction of Wang Chiu Road and Cheung Yip Street, Kowloon Bay. He was charged with careless driving at the original hearing, but Principal Magistrate Ernest Lin Kam-hung ordered the prosecution to review the charge.
Lam, a member of the National Committee of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference, told reporters after the earlier hearing that he had been driving to the Dome Festival at the former Kai Tak airport. The music festival was controversial at the time as organisers were accused of drawing young protesters away from the annual pro-democracy march with the cut-price music event.
In the September hearing, Lam told the court: “It was my first time driving to that place. It was raining and I was driving slowly.”
A dangerous driving conviction carries a maximum HK$25,000 fine and up to three years in prison, while the maximum for careless driving is a fine and six months’ jail.