More than 240 solicitors have condemned Law Society president Ambrose Lam San-keung for endorsing Beijing's contentious white paper, which sparked public concern over the independence of the city's judiciary.
A petition, which was signed by more than 240 solicitors within 74 hours, calls on the Law Society to hold an extraordinary general meeting to address members' concerns over the society's stance on the State Council's white paper, which was released last week.
The paper categorised the city's judges as administrators and said they had a "political requirement" to love the country.
The lawyers who signed the petition plan to table a motion of no confidence in Lam, who praised the white paper on behalf of the profession on Monday, and another motion to urge him to retract his statements.
Kevin Yam, who tabled the petition with the Law Society yesterday, described it as a "historic day" in the legal sector. "There has never been such a big group of solicitors calling for a vote of no confidence in the president," Yam, a member of the society's constitutional affairs and human rights committee, said.
"The public tends to see solicitors as those who only care about making money and neglecting the core values … but the petition proves that solicitors would stand up at critical moments."
While the extraordinary general meeting looks set to take place - as the petition has reached the minimum requirement of 50 signatures - Yam said it was unlikely the motion of no confidence would be passed, given the society's 7,400-strong membership.
China-Australia Legal Exchange Foundation chairman Lawrence Ma Yan-kwok said: "When you vote for somebody, you have to accept his view. He has the mandate to make the statement.
"Of course, some of his personal statements are being challenged ... but those are his personal views and he has the right to express his personal views."
Barry Chin Chi-yung, who is also a member of the foundation and an adjudicator of the Obscene Articles Tribunal, said the attacks on Lam were mainly about him making the statement without the approval of society members.
However, the criticism failed to prove Lam was wrong, Chin said. "He just gave his own opinion and I respect it," Chin said.