Campaign to save embattled pro-democracy legislators is short of funds

By staff writer, with additional reporting by Ben Pang

Organiser Chan Kin-man hopes to raise more cash when Hongkongers who are travelling overseas for the holidays return for the annual New Year protest march on January 1

By staff writer, with additional reporting by Ben Pang |

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Leung Chun-ying’s departure may bring a lower turnout for protest marches.

A campaign to raise at least HK$5 million in legal fees for four pro-democracy lawmakers to save their seats has so far only raised about HK$180,000, according to a Justice Defence Fund co-founder.

Chan Kin-man, a founder of the Occupy Central democracy movement, set up the Justice Defence Fund last Thursday to raise funds for four lawmakers: veteran legislator “Long Hair” Leung Kwok-hung, Nathan Law Kwun-chung, Edward Yiu Chung-yim and Lau Siu-lai. The four face a legal challenge lodged by the government barring them from the Legislative Council, and they had their legal aid applications rejected by Court of First Instance judge Thomas Au Hing-cheung on December 15.

Chan said the funds they had raised were still far from their target. “The campaign is in its early stages. I hope Hongkongers who are travelling overseas at Christmas come back soon for the New Year march on January 1, which will also raise funds for the campaign,” he said.

Last month the High Court unseated two newly-elected Youngspiration lawmakers, Sixtus Baggio Leung Chung-hang and Yau Wai-ching, for supporting a “Hong Kong nation” and insulting China during their Legco swearing-in. Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying then launched an all-out legal offensive against the pro-democracy camp on December 2, moving to have four more lawmakers disqualified over improper oath-taking.

The judge adjourned the case until the week of February 6 to allow the four to prepare their cases.

The Civil Human Rights Front, the group behind the January 1 march, is worried about a lower turnout after Leung announced that he will not seek a second term.

Front convenor Au Nok-hin warned that Leung’s high-handed style of governance would not necessarily fade with his departure, citing recent controversies surrounding two possible successors.

Au said that lawmaker and former minister Regina Ip Lau Suk-yee, who has officially announced her intention to run for the top job, and Chief Secretary Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor, widely tipped to join the race, have both shown their liking for an iron-fisted, Beijing-first style of governance.

Au said the march on New Year’s Day would call on all Hongkongers to protest against Beijing’s interference in the city’s legal system. He expected around 50,000 people to join the march, and the event has already gained police approval.

The march will start at 2pm in Victoria Park, Causeway Bay, and end in the pedestrian zone on Chater Road, Central.

Edited by Pete Spurrier