Albert Chan denies charges in relation to New Year protest
Lawmaker Albert Chan Wai-yip should be cleared of public order offences unless the prosecution could prove he “organised” an unauthorised protest on January 1 and that it involved more than 30 participants, his counsel told a court on Tuesday.
The People Power lawmaker denies two charges under the Public Order Ordinance: one of organising an unauthorised assembly, the other of participating in one.
Eastern Court earlier heard that Chan had received police approval for a march from Causeway Bay to Government House on January 1. On arrival at the chief executive’s residence, the prosecution claims, Chan told protesters to surround the site. They walked downhill and blocked at least 116 vehicles at the junction of Queen’s Road Central and Ice House Street.
Douglas Kwok King-hin, for Chan, said on Tuesday that prosecutors had to prove “at least one group, with more than 30 members, had marched on the road for a common purpose … under the defendant’s organisation”.
Kwok argued that since the Public Order Ordinance did not apply to processions with less than 30 participants, or those not held on a “highway or thoroughfare”, Chan should not be held responsible for small groups of protestors walking on the pavement or blocking roads.
“If a person had stolen something during the march, should the organiser be held responsible for that offence?” Kwok argued. “Everyone must be held responsible for his own behaviour … and the evidence showed that Chan held a microphone and spoke to the crowd … but were those [traffic-blocking] groups organised by him? It was a very complicated question.
“If you only record Chan’s speeches, it would seem that he’s organising something, but how about other activists who also spoke?” Kwok added. “Chan was simply saying that protestors should avoid clashing with the police directly, otherwise they might get hurt.”
However, prosecutor Jonathan Man Tak-ho said evidence showed that Chan had asked the crowd on Queen’s Road Central to “move forward and called for the police to make way for them”.
Man also argued that the word “thoroughfare” included pavements and footbridges, as it would be illogical to exempt people from getting approval to protest if they were only planning to march on pavements.
Magistrate David Chum Yau-fong will deliver his verdict on March 5.