Scholarism activist starts legal bid after 'eviction' from National Day event

PUBLISHED : Friday, 03 January, 2014, 3:59am
UPDATED : Friday, 03 January, 2014, 4:28am

A core member of the student-led activist group Scholarism has launched a bid for a judicial review of the decision to remove him and another group member from a National Day flag-raising ceremony last year.

Scholarism spokesman Lai Man-lok said "personal animosity towards … high-profile activists" gave rise to their selective removal from the October 1 event.

The action violated their constitutional rights including to freedom of expression, peaceful assembly and demonstration as guaranteed by the Basic Law, said Lai. The 19-year-old is studying social work at the College of Technology.

Lai said he was asked to leave along with Scholarism convener Joshua Wong Chi-fung in a decision made by the Director of Home Affairs. The ceremony was organised by the Home Affairs Department. He wants the court to declare the decision unlawful, unconstitutional and legally unreasonable.

In his application for a judicial review filed with the High Court, Lai said 10 security guards of the Convention and Exhibition Centre and other people forcibly removed them during the ceremony celebrating the 64th anniversary of the founding of the People's Republic of China held at Golden Bauhinia Square.

They were removed as they gestured to symbolise "universal nomination" in front of media cameras, the document said.

They were told they had entered the "wrong viewing area", which was designated for community groups, not for the public.

The decision was arbitrary as the public and other Scholarism members present in that area were not told to go, Lai said.

The incident came a year after the pair were similarly evicted during the 2012 ceremony, allegedly because they were wearing black T-shirts emblazoned with the slogans "I Love Hong Kong" and "Support".

The court filing said the department had told the Legislative Council that Lai and Wong were never "evicted" or requested to leave the venue, but were escorted to an area close to the public zone.

If the decision to remove him did not violate his constitutional rights, Lai said, it was still legally unreasonable because he was removed by force even though he did not act disorderly.