Legislative Council oath-taking saga

Joshua Wong and fellow Occupy activists join protest march before expected jail time

Organisers claim 2,000 people in attendance, with government’s handling of ousted lawmakers a rallying point

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 03 December, 2017, 9:01pm
UPDATED : Sunday, 03 December, 2017, 10:58pm

Convicted Occupy leaders including Joshua Wong took to the streets in Hong Kong to oppose “authoritarian rule” one last time on Sunday, days before they were expected to serve time in jail.

Event organisers said 2,000 people joined the march from Southorn Playground in Wan Chai to the Court of Final Appeal in Central over a series of recent court cases, including the imprisonment of the pro-democracy movement activists and the disqualification of four opposition lawmakers.

Police estimated 1,800 people attended the protest.

The demonstration was also prompted by the government’s recent demand that the four Legislative Council members ousted over improper oaths each return paid salaries and allowances of up to HK$3.1 million. Protesters called the efforts “blatant political persecution”.

Joshua Wong Chi-fung, Lester Shum and Raphael Wong Ho-ming were among the convicted Occupy leaders chanting “No fear of the authoritarian era. Oppose political persecution” during the march.

They were all convicted of contempt of court for obstructing a court-ordered clearance of a key demonstration site in Mong Kok during the 79-day pro-democracy movement of 2014.

Imprisonment was expected for them, with the court due to hand down a sentence this Thursday.

Joshua Wong, now on bail after serving two moths in prison for a separate offence during Occupy, said he was “tired” and wanted to enjoy his “last weekend” before jail.

“I’m satisfied that a group of Hongkongers walked with me in my last rally today although not a lot of people came out.”

I feel determined to show my support
protester Jenny Wong, 50

The turnout was smaller than the two similar anti-government rallies held in August and October. Both events drew tens of thousands.

Disqualified lawmaker “Long Hair” Leung Kwok-hung said the turnout on Sunday was “not unexpected” but urged supporters to keep their hopes up.

“It doesn’t really matter to us how many people came out as long as we did our best and provided an opportunity for our supporters to show solidarity,” Leung said.

Jenny Wong, 50, attended all three rallies this year and said she felt disenchanted by the government’s handling of the disqualified lawmakers and its asking that their salaries be returned.

“My friends said they were tired and did not come. They thought that even if they came there wouldn’t be any benefit,” she said, joined by her husband. “But I feel determined to show my support [to pan-democrats].”

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Another ousted lawmaker, Nathan Law Kwun-chung, freed on bail with Occupy co-leader Joshua Wong, said it would be difficult to witness his associates, including Wong, go to jail on Thursday.

“Before, I was the one getting onto a prisoner transport vehicle and entering prison,” he said. “It’ll be hard for me to witness my comrades going to jail this time ... but we are glad to have immense support.”