A High Court judge has issued an injunction banning pro-Beijing protesters from causing harassment and blocking access to the residence of media mogul and founder of Next Digital Jimmy Lai Chee-ying.

Pro-Beijing demonstrators often staged protests outside Lai’s home at Kadoorie Hill, according to Apple Daily. Police were asked to intervene last week as some protesters attempted to block cars from entering or leaving the residence. During another demonstration, a security guard was hospitalised after being assaulted by a protester, who is now being sought by the authorities.

Pro-Beijing protesters outside Jimmy Lai’s residence. Photo: Mark Simon.

The injunction – issued last Friday and effective for a week – bans demonstrators from blocking the entrance of Lai’s residence or harassing those inside it.

Despite the court order, protesters have continued to gather outside Lai’s residence. Some 20 demonstrators appeared on Tuesday accusing Lai of being a “traitor of the Chinese race,” manipulating local elections and masterminding the 2014 pro-democracy Occupy protests.

They also brought prop resembling a prisoner which they said symbolised Lai. They punched the prop while shouting slogans such as “eradicate poisonous press.” Security guards served the injunction on the protesters in the police’s presence.

‘Paid protesters’

Lai’s assistant Mark Simon accused the police of failing to enforce the injunction. “Lately, even with the writ, as [of] today the police are not enforcing it. So we have a police force that allows the law to be broken,” he told HKFP.

Simon claimed that the Chinese government and the China Liaison Office – Beijing’s organ in Hong Kong – have encouraged harassment against Lai.

Pro-Beijing protesters outside Jimmy Lai’s residence. Photo: Mark Simon.

“These people are paid protesters; someone’s paying them to keep someone in China happy,” he said. “The goal is to silence Next Media and to put pressure on Jimmy Lai so he plays ball. The proof that they’re morons is thinking that [the] tactic works with Jimmy Lai.”

Frequent target

Lai has often been a target of pro-Beijing protesters. At least 108 protests have been staged outside Lai’s residence and Next Digital’s office in Tseung Kwan O since June, according to Next Digital-owned Apple Daily.

During the Occupy protests in 2014, three men threw animal entrails at Lai. One of them told the court that he resented Lai for supposedly being behind the protests which had affected his business. The trio were subsequently sentenced to nine to 18 weeks in prison for assault.

Jimmy Lai at the Occupy protest site. File photo: HKFP.

Last year, pro-Beijing groups filed 15 complaints against Lai to the legislature for secret payments to pro-democracy lawmaker “Long Hair” Leung Kwok-hung and former lawmaker Lee Cheuk-yan of the Labour Party. The complaints were dismissed.

A survey commissioned by a pro-Beijing group found last year that Lai was the most highly opposed pro-democracy political figure in Hong Kong. The media tycoon was also named last year as one of the 50 most influential people in the world by Bloomberg Markets, joining the likes of Chinese President Xi Jinping and Pope Francis.

Ellie Ng

Ellie Ng has written for Foreign Policy, the Daily Telegraph, Global Voices Online and others.