Controversial solicitor is no Lam to the slaughter

PUBLISHED : Friday, 20 June, 2014, 2:43am
UPDATED : Friday, 20 June, 2014, 2:43am

Law Society president Ambrose Lam San-keung has found himself at the centre of controversy for his endorsement of Beijing's white paper on "one country, two systems", but this is not the first time his remarks have drawn fire.

Lam, a solicitor since 1988, succeeded Dieter Yih Lai-tak as the Law Society's chief in May last year, two years after he was elected vice-president of the body that oversees some 9,000 members.

Less than a month into his term as president, he was criticised by university deans for proposing a common qualifying examination for solicitors to replace tests provided by the city's three law schools.

And four months later he faced far greater criticism after he joined the chorus condemning Occupy Central, saying its civil disobedience plan was without legal grounds and that the notion of "peaceful violence" was just "beautiful rhetoric".

"I am angry that many people are disrupting the social order and the rule of law by abusing the name of justice," Lam said.

Those remarks caused a split within the Law Society, as human rights lawyer Mark Daly, who sits on the constitutional committee of the city's largest lawyers' group, said the committee had not yet taken a stance on the issue and the remarks by Lam (pictured) took him by surprise.

Last month, Lam provoked another row when he refused to answer a TVB Pear reporter's question, in English, on the society's response to Beijing's requirement that chief executive candidates be "patriotic".

"I already explained it in Cantonese, sorry about that," Lam replied. When the asked for his answer in English, Lam insisted: "I already provided the answer, thank you. You can translate."

Solicitor Kevin Yam, who has proposed a vote of no confidence in Lam, said his white paper remarks were "the last straw".

Solicitor Priscilla Choy Ka-ling, who is working with Yam, said Lam's re-election in May amid members' discontent showed that the Law Society needed to reform the way it elected presidents. At present, the president is picked from one of 20 council members, and only the council members get to vote.

"But of course we wanted 'one man, one vote' in picking the president and his deputies … If we have 'one man, one vote', the one we pick will be truly accountable to the society's members."