'We really thought we were losing'

Trio behind campaign for a vote of no confidence in Law Society chief say their shock victory will spur more actions to defend the rule of law

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 16 August, 2014, 2:57am
UPDATED : Saturday, 16 August, 2014, 2:57am

Three solicitors who led a successful campaign for a vote of no confidence in the Law Society president have vowed to build on their success and defend the rule of law - and urged more lawyers to join their cause.

Speaking to the South China Morning Post yesterday, a day after the society passed an unprecedented vote of no confidence in Ambrose Lam San-keung, the three said their victory had come as a shock.

But the trio, who have become known as "The Three Core Requisitionists" for being the first signatories of the petition that led to the extraordinary general meeting that voted against Lam, continued to explain their position to the media and rally fellow lawyers.

"Some lawyers told us they got calls from [Beijing's] liaison office to vote in favour of Lam. We really thought we were losing," said Priscilla Choy Ka-ling, a corporate law specialist who was among the trio. "But our members are smart and they came to vote and cancel the proxy votes they handed in under pressure."

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

The group is waiting for the society's council to respond to the vote before deciding on their next move and whether to escalate their action. They already plan to meet solicitors who have expressed interest in joining further actions.

Their campaign had its origins in a chat group on WhatsApp, which brought together about 10 solicitors with an interest in rule-of-law matters. That was how Choy connected with Kevin Yam Kin-fung and Irene Ng Siu-wan, and the three eventually emerged as the leading opponents of the president.

"The three of us considered ourselves less prone to political pressure than others for different reasons. I had an agreement with my boss that [everything] I did was done in my personal capacity," said Yam, a financial law specialist with international law firm Kennedys. "From the moment we submitted the signatures to call for the EGM, there was no going back," he said.

Yam prepared three versions of his post-EGM speech - in case of a big defeat, a defeat by a tight margin, and victory. He delivered the last, calling on lawyers to "remain vigilant to ensure that no one person can politically hijack the Law Society any longer".

Choy took responsibility for networking and canvassing votes. The wife of Professor Johannes Chan Man-mun, the former dean of law at the University of Hong Kong, her past experience included serving as election agent or campaign manager for Margaret Ng Ngoi-yee, the lawmaker for the legal sector from 1995 to 2012.

Ng took responsibility for monitoring the group's Facebook page - and that of Lam's camp - and give timely responses to lawyers' inquiries. "What I did was to keep updating the page, to keep up the momentum and grip members' attention," said Ng, an intellectual property specialist.