Beijing White Paper 2014

Law Society president Ambrose Lam resigns after historic no-confidence vote

Lam had said Beijing's controversial white paper on Hong Kong was a 'positive document' and called Communist Party 'great'

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 19 August, 2014, 1:41pm
UPDATED : Wednesday, 20 August, 2014, 1:57am

Law Society president Ambrose Lam San-keung announced on Tuesday that he will resign following controversy over his positive response to Beijing’s white paper on Hong Kong.

The announcement came after solicitors passed a motion of no confidence in Lam last Thursday at an historic meeting of the 9,000-strong society.

It was the first time the society had debated a motion of no confidence against a president.

Before the society’s council met at 1pm on Tuesday, Lam confirmed that he will tender his resignation with immediate effect.

“This may be the last time I see you as president of the Law Society,” he said. “In order to maintain the unity of the Law Society, I’d like to keep a low profile. In order to maintain the solidarity of the Law Society, I will tender my resignation to the council with immediate effect.

“Even though I will not be seeing you as president in future, if there’s any chance for me to express views on any matters of public concern, I will pertinently express my view,” Lam added.

Council member Angela Lee confirmed this afternoon that Stephen Hung Wan-shun, one of two current vice-presidents, has been elected as the society's new president.

Lam drew criticism after he voiced support in June for Beijing’s contentious white paper on Hong Kong while the society’s council was still deciding on its response to the document.

The paper categorised judges as among those “who administrate Hong Kong” and stated that they should be “patriotic”. Many lawyers said it threatened the city’s judicial independence.

Lam, a partner in the law firm Lam, Lee & Lai, also described the Communist Party as “great” in a radio interview – without informing the society’s council beforehand.

“His remarks really took us by surprise,” a council member said last week.

Eyebrows were further raised over what some termed Lam’s “chameleon-like” change of attitude towards the Occupy Central democracy movement.

As the newly elected president, he told journalists at a media gathering in June last year that he would contact organisers of the group “to see what legal assistance they would need”.

The group plans to mobilise 10,000 protesters to block streets in Central if the government’s plan for the 2017 chief executive election does not guarantee voters a genuine choice between candidates.

It was a lawyer’s duty, Lam declared, to protect the legal rights of others.

But at another media gathering he called four months later, Lam said there were no legal grounds for civil disobedience and said the notion of “peaceful violence” was just “beautiful rhetoric”.

Ahead of last week’s vote some solicitors complained that they received calls from clients with mainland links indicating a preference that Lam be backed.