• Thu
  • Dec 18, 2014
  • Updated: 9:38pm
Beijing White Paper 2014
NewsHong Kong

Solicitors vote to unseat Law Society president Ambrose Lam

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 14 August, 2014, 11:40pm
UPDATED : Friday, 15 August, 2014, 4:22am

The Law Society yesterday passed a historic vote of no confidence in its president for his remarks backing Beijing's recent white paper on Hong Kong.

A no-confidence motion in Ambrose Lam San-keung was passed by a wide margin, with 2,392 votes for and 1,478 against.

The rules of the Law Society do not state that a president must resign if a vote of no confidence is passed.

"Tonight there's no winner or loser for the Law Society," a stony-faced Lam said after the meeting, without indicating whether or not he would resign.

"All along I felt this was an internal matter for the Law Society and I have kept a low profile on this ... I hope we can stay united," he said as he got into his car surrounded by journalists.

He repeated the call for unity in a later statement.

The Law Society members who initiated yesterday's vote fought back tears as they announced their victory.

Kevin Yam Kin-fung, one of the three who tabled the motion of no confidence, said: "We have witnessed one of the most unexpected results in the history of Hong Kong professional bodies.

"But this is not a time for celebration. It is a time for relief, but also a time for sadness and vigilance. Sadness over the grotesque political interference by outside machinery throughout the process despite this being an internal matter."

He urged Lam to respect the result and step down.

It was the first time the 9,000-strong society had met to debate a motion of no confidence against a president.

Lam has been under fire since June when, speaking on behalf of the society, he expressed support for Beijing's controversial white paper, which is seen as a threat to Hong Kong's judicial independence.

The white paper referred to judges as "administrators" and said they had to be "patriotic".

Some 1,800 barristers and solicitors marched in protest against the document.

A second resolution called on the Law Society to issue a statement that the rule of law and judicial independence are Hong Kong's core values and should not be undermined by the white paper. The motion was passed by 2,747 votes in favour and 1,186 against.

A third one that asked Lam to withdraw his statements on the white paper was also passed, with 2,574 votes for and 1,367 against.

About 1,000 solicitors showed up at Southorn Stadium in Wan Chai, where the meeting was held. The remainder of the ballots were proxy votes.

Those who turned up included five past presidents of the society: Huen Wong, Junius Ho Kwan-yiu, Ambrose Lau Hon-chuen, Roderick Woo Bun and Donald Yap. Ho and Lau said they would vote in favour of Lam.

More than 10 members from each camp spoke during the hour-long, closed-door meeting but Lam remained silent.

There had been complaints from solicitors that they received calls from clients with mainland links indicating a preference for Lam to prevail. Lawyers in some firms were asked to give the meeting's chairman proxy ballots to vote in favour of Lam.

The results showed that the majority of the proxy votes were against Lam.



Related topics

More on this story

For unlimited access to:

SCMP.com SCMP Tablet Edition SCMP Mobile Edition 10-year news archive



This article is now closed to comments

Congratulations to solicitors who have emphatically shown their desire to uphold the independence of the judiciary, the rule of law and the non-politicization of the Law Society. I'm sure Lam and his supporters were shocked by the huge majority of votes in favour of the no confidence motion which was overwhelming and shows how the membership was outraged by his blatant behaviour. We should be proud of the results as it sends a clear message that solicitors value their independence.
Time for Lam to resign as no doubt he will be taken care of by his masters! It is also time to reform the election procedures for the Presidency as it only takes a majority vote of Council members to elect the President - in this day and age can it be right for a President to be 'elected' by only 11 votes? Also, the system of voting by proxies should be changed as these past few weeks have shown there has been blatant interference and arm twisting in the Law Society's affairs. Congratulations again!
Kudos to the solicitors who showed their courage to speak up and speak out in support of the independence of Judiciary and the legal profession as a whole. There is nothing more worrisome than having a judge look behind his shoulders every time he renders a decision to see if he may have stepped on somebody's toes, and the same for a lawyer when it comes to serving his clients.
You asked for benevolence, you got benevolence. Now you may continue to praise "The Magnificent CCP " loud and clear. Of course we all understand why you said so. And you may continue to refuse answering in English questions from English media, insisting that you have already answered in Chinese.
But not as President of the HK Law Society any more.
Finally justice prevails.
At last the Law Society gained back some of its credibility. If this guy had gotten away with it and survived the motion its gonna be a heavy blow to the solicitors. It also shows that Beijing does not quite have the clout to do what it wants within this organisation. Proxy votes? Not enough mate.
It's highly unlikely that this vote was just for democracy, but instead a vote that people do not wish to be led by a moron who don't know when to keep his mouth shut, which is a skill that's somewhat critical in the law profession.
It's like you won't want a driver who doesn't know how to stay awake.
It's been great news for the people of Hong Kong that members of the Law Society, had defied expectations and voted in favour of the no-confidence motion on the incumbent president last night in its EGM. Though most people here are economic animals and generally not interested in politics, we see a lot of people from the older generation, in financial, industrial and business circle do not have the guts to stand up against what are obviously not in our interests by declaring political stands which are not their own. To remain neutral seems not an option in the present political climate!! I salute the people who managed to halt this trend of spinelessness among our elite class. They give us hope that this community has the moral capability to fight for what is right and not only the younger ones who have already shown us they reserve our respects in the fight for true democracy. We should all be encouraged that younger people are much more inclined to treasure democratic values, unlike the older folks who put money above everything in live.
The members of the Law Society do not care about Mr. Lam's personal political views. The point is that the Law Society is to remain politically neutral. Mr. Lam should not be expressing his personal political views while stating that he is representing the Law Society.
He is entitled to his own opinion when he is in the bathroom all on his own. When he went to talk to the press, he represented all lawyers in HK. The votes last night had unequivocally told him to shut up.
Nothing to do with OC or Benny Tai. It's a mass protest of honest decency against arrogance and self interest. The Law Society is not the private fiefdom of fat cats who lick the boots of CCP princelings.



SCMP.com Account