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Hong Kong youth

Demosisto’s new chairman Ivan Lam talks about Joshua Wong, clashing with his ex-policeman father over Occupy and losing 13kg while in jail

While he may be less well known than his peer Joshua Wong, the poster boy for the Occupy movement, Ivan Lam is no stranger to controversial politics

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 06 June, 2018, 9:33am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 06 June, 2018, 12:28pm

Demosisto’s new chairman Ivan Lam Long-yin may not have attracted as much attention as his comrades over the years, but the 23-year-old is no greenhorn of politics.

Lam was in the same secondary school as Joshua Wong Chi-fung and the two joined hands and ran in a cabinet election for the student union in 2011 – but their first battle did not go smoothly.

The pair demanded a democracy wall for the school but were defeated by opponents who focused on welfare services for their classmates.

Having known him for so many years, from the days of student organisation Scholarism to political party Demosisto, Lam described Wong as a “blunt and straightforward” person who always wants to get things done.

“When he thinks of something, he will get to it even without prior discussion with us,” he said, adding that they did have disagreements from time to time, with a grin on his face.

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Acknowledging that he was of less international renown than Wong, the poster boy for the city’s Occupy movement, Lam said there were always different roles in a team.

“My role is to motivate the team to continue its work and attract the young generation,” he said.

Perhaps, his optimistic character lends itself to this motivation.

Lam, who was jailed for 13 months last August for storming the Legislative Council in 2014, in a protest against a controversial government development project in the New Territories, was released on bail last November, pending appeal.

Looking back on the three months in jail and the uncertain future, Lam often mentioned the word “optimistic”.

“I got used to the life in jail in quite a short time … maybe I am an optimistic person,” Lam said, adding that he treated the ordeal as a time for reflection and personal growth.

He forced himself to run and read every day, alongside the regular job of washing dishes in the canteen. When he was released in November, he had lost more than 13kg in weight.

What made him uneasy was his relationship with his father, a retired policeman. He had conceded in earlier interviews that they had a tense relationship, especially during the pro-democracy Occupy movement of 2014.

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“Our relationship has [become] better, because what he had been worried about happened. It is like reaching the bottom of a valley and no worse things could happen any more,” Lam said, laughing.

Lam was enrolled in the Chinese University’s cultural studies department but dropped out after a year, with a passion for studying arts.

He then entered Hong Kong Art School but has not yet graduated, due to his busy work schedule, he said.