Leaders of banned Hong Kong National Party to face three-man Exco panel for appeal
- Date set for January 14, with Martin Liao, Chow Chung-kong and Joseph Yam to hear arguments
- One executive councillor says hearing could be first of its kind
The leaders of the outlawed Hong Kong National Party will get to appeal against the ban before a three-member committee of Executive Council members on January 14, the Post has learned.
It was earlier expected that Andy Chan Ho-tin and Jason Chow Ho-fai would make written submissions to Chief Executive Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor and her de facto cabinet, with Lam having the final say.
But Exco has decided to hold a hearing, following protests by the party that the appeal process was unfair.
A source with direct knowledge of the arrangements for next month’s hearing said the panel comprised barrister Martin Liao Cheung-kong, former stock exchange chairman Chow Chung-kong and former Monetary Authority chief Joseph Yam Chi-kwong.
The Exco secretariat declined to comment on the matter or confirm if the committee’s decision would be final, or require full Exco approval.
Exco members Ronny Tong Ka-wah and Regina Ip Lau Suk-yee said the council could delegate its duty to a committee, but any decision may be handed back to the full panel for confirmation.
Another Exco member, who declined to be named, said: “It is very likely the first time Exco is conducting an oral hearing.”
Secretary for Security John Lee Ka-chiu banned the HKNP under the Societies Ordinance on September 24, for being a threat to national security and public order.
Chan and Chow have maintained that the ban on the party they co-founded in 2016 was unnecessary, and that when they spoke in the past of independence for Hong Kong, they were merely airing “political expressions”.
Although they wished to appeal, the party leaders have questioned the impartiality of Lam and eight other Exco members, accusing them of having made up their minds even before the party was banned.
The HKNP is the first political party to be banned, and the Societies Ordinance does not spell out the exact procedure for an appeal.
When Exco handles appeals against various government departments, it does so in writing.
Veteran human rights lawyer Mark Daly, who is representing Chan, said he had never heard of a committee being set up for a matter like this.
Asked if the HKNP would challenge the move, he said: “No game plan for the moment.”
During the full-day hearing, Chan and Chow will be allowed to make their arguments on their own, or let their lawyers speak for them. A representative of the Security Bureau will then respond.
Daly said the party leaders had not decided who would speak at the hearing.
Liao, the only lawyer on the three-man committee, declined to comment when approached, saying he was bound by Exco confidentiality rules.
Exco member Tong, also a senior counsel, said there was no precedent for Exco hearing oral representations, and shrugged off the suggestion that the committee was formed to address the HKNP leaders’ protests of unfairness.
He said having a committee was simply more efficient.
“If we are to hear lengthy oral presentations, having the full Exco may not be a suitable and efficient choice,” he said.
Another Exco member who declined to be named pointed out that the government had given the HKNP three extensions on the time limit to present its opposition to the ban, excused seven out of 16 non-official Exco members from discussing the ban, and now the party leaders would be able to appear in person before the committee.
The member said that in doing all this, the government was trying minimise the chances of the party lodging a judicial review of the ban.
“The government has been very cautious when handling the ban and the subsequent appeal in granting HKNP’s requests,” the member said.