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Legislative Council oath-taking saga

Cardinal Joseph Zen backs HK$5 million fundraising effort for ousted lawmakers, calling their disqualification ‘evil’

Street booths set up to collect public donations for legislators unseated over improper oath-taking

PUBLISHED : Friday, 11 August, 2017, 3:33pm
UPDATED : Friday, 11 August, 2017, 3:57pm

Cardinal Joseph Zen Ze-kiun is appealing to the public to support four disqualified lawmakers through a new round of donations, hoping to raise HK$5 million to help foot their massive legal bill.

Pan-democratic lawmakers Nathan Law Kwun-chung, “Long Hair” Leung Kwok-hung, Lau Siu-lai and Edward Yiu Chung-yim were removed from their seats on July 14 by the High Court for failing to take their oaths properly during the Legislative Council swearing-in ceremony last October.

The Justice Defence Fund, established at the end of last year to provide financial aid to citizens to defend their rights in criminal and civil proceedings, kicked off its three-day street booth campaign in Central on Friday .

Zen and about 10 pan-democratic legislators came to show support for the four disqualified lawmakers.

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“The act of disqualifying the four lawmakers, who were elected by our sacred votes, was evil. I call on people to express anger, but not hatred, to Beijing and let them know we do not accept the disqualification,” Zen, 85, said.

Street booths will be set up around the city for the purpose of collecting donations.

Professor Joseph Cheng Yu-shek, one of the trustees of the fund, said they had received about HK$7 million since it was set up, with HK$6.2 million set aside for the four ousted lawmakers.

The total amount required was earlier estimated at up to HK$11 million, if they are asked to return their salary and allowances as well. This sum takes into account only the lawmakers’ own costs.

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But according to the ruling, they are also required to pay for the prosecuting party and the Department of Justice.

The exact amount is not yet known, but it is expected to be massive as the government hired a well-known legal team.

So far, the fund has received HK$1.6 million in donations over the past two weeks, well short of the HK$5 million target.

Leung said his legal aid application for his appeal had been granted, and he would discuss with lawyers whether or not to go ahead with it. How much money they could raise would be a key factor, he said.

The other three ousted lawmakers have not decided whether to appeal, saying the main obstacle is the enormous legal fee.

The deadline for lodging the appeal has been postponed to September 11.