Legislator Emily Lau Wai-hing yesterday placed a newspaper advertisement appealing for funds to help clear a debt she incurred with a mainland official following a court case. The advert in Apple Daily comes ahead of a bankruptcy petition hearing at the Court of First Instance on March 27. Ms Lau, of The Frontier, said she hoped to settle before the hearing the remaining $550,000 of the $1.6 million she must pay Jiang Enzhu, head of Beijing's Liaison Office. 'I am very grateful to the Hong Kong people [for their help in raising the funds],' she said. The appeal bore early fruit as four members of the public rang Ms Lau's office to inquire about donating. She could lose her seat in Legco if she failed to pay, as those declared bankrupt cannot be lawmakers. Of the $1.05 million Ms Lau has paid, $200,000 came from her own savings, $600,000 from a fund set up last October by social activists to promote human rights and $250,000 from donations. Last December, Mr Jiang filed a High Court writ applying for her to be declared bankrupt. The action was prompted by Ms Lau's failure to pay in full the costs she owed Mr Jiang after a failed legal action in 1998. She had alleged Xinhua, the predecessor of the Liaison Office, had breached the Personal Data (Privacy) Ordinance. Ms Lau had claimed Xinhua had not replied within the statutory 40 days to her request on whether it was holding information on her. The court ruled that Mr Jiang was not head of Xinhua at the time and ordered Ms Lau to shoulder part of his legal fees.