Hong Kong pan-democrat lawmakers accused of improper oath-taking call on public to help fund HK$1.7 million legal bill
Trio’s bid for legal aid rejected as March 1 court date approaches
Four pan-democrat lawmakers facing a court challenge for improper oath-taking have launched a new fundraising effort after three of them had their legal aid applications rejected.
Lecturer Lau Siu-lai, former Occupy student leader Nathan Law Kwun-chung, academic Edward Yiu Chung-yim, and veteran lawmaker “Long Hair” Leung Kwok-hung are due to appear in court on March 1 for their oath-taking on October 12.
Facing the court battle, the four pan-democrats originally filed legal aid applications, but all except Leung’s were rejected.
The High Court yesterday upheld the decision, after Lau, Law and Yiu appealed against the refusal. “The court did not accept our arguments,” Lau said.
The three said they had budgeted HK$5 million for the first stage of litigation, but a HK$1.7 million shortfall remained.
They said they would be auctioning off personal belongings and items provided by supporters – paintings and sports memorabilia – in an effort to raise enough money to meet the shortfall.
Lau said not receiving legal aid would put all four in a disadvantageous position. All three appealed to the public for financial support, saying the case directly concerned the public interest.
Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying and Secretary for Justice Rimsky Yuen Kwok-keung mounted the legal challenge to oust the four lawmakers in early December, just days after pro-independence Youngspiration lawmakers-elect Yau Wai-ching and Sixtus Baggio Leung Chung-hang were disqualified.
The government has accused Lau of reading her oath in a slow manner, Law of raising his voice when he pronounced “China”, Leung Kwok-hung of chanting political slogans, and Yiu of adding words to his oath.
Leung Kwok-hung, Law and Lau, along with disqualified pair Yau and Baggio Leung, won a combined 183,236 votes in geographical constituencies in September.Yiu, who represents the architectural functional constituency, bagged 2,491 votes.
If Leung Kwok-hung, Law and Lau all lost their seats, the pan-democratic camp would no longer keep its 17-16 majority in the constituency, which lets them vote down motions they oppose.
“Our case concerns the public interest. Our majority in the democratically-elected constituency is at stake,” Law said.
“It’s unfair. The Legislative Council president was able to use the legislature’s resources to fund his lawsuits,” Yiu said, referring to Andrew Leung Kwan-yuen.