Three pro-democracy activists established a fund on Thursday to raise money for four lawmakers who are facing judicial reviews lodged by the government over the oaths of allegiance they took as lawmakers.

The Justice Defense Fund was set up by Occupy co-founder Chan Kin-man, Reverend Chu Yiu-ming, and convener of the pro-democracy political group Power for Democracy Joseph Yu Shek-cheng as trustees. It is aimed at helping the embattled politicians cover legal costs.

justice defence fund

The government filed the legal challenge against the four in early December. Those targeted include localist lawmaker Lau Siu-lai, Nathan Law Kwun-chung of the Demosistō party, “Long Hair” Leung Kwok-hung of the League of Social Democrats, and Edward Yiu Chung-yim who represents the architecture sector.

Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying and the Secretary for Justice asked the court to declare their offices vacant after each of them staged protests during October’s swearing-in session.

oath lawmakers nathan law lau siu-lai
File Photo: Tom Grundy/HKFP.

“As two of the legislators are teachers and one of them still a student, the fund has secured the help of the Professional Teachers’ Union in setting up a bank account for the collection of donations,” a statement by the Demosistō party read.

With a target of raising HK$5 million in the first stage, the fund will collect donations through street appeals, online crowdfunding and help from individuals. If there is any leftover money after the case closes, it will be used to help people who face legal action due over political reasons, sociology professor Chan Kin-man said.

lawmakers judicial review
Pro-democracy lawmakers Leung Kwok Hung (L), otherwise known as ‘Long Hair’, Nathan Law (2nd L), Edward Yiu (3rd L) and Lau Siu Lai (2nd R) arrive at the High Court in Hong Kong on December 15, 2016, for the first time after the government launched a legal bid to unseat them.Photo: AFP/Anthony Wallace.

“Court proceedings are costly and may easily amount to the millions of Hong Kong dollars. While the CY Leung administration is supported by public funds, the four legislators will have to bear the costs themselves,” he added. “The asymmetry of the legal battle constitutes an injustice, and may easily become an instrument for the government to suppress political dissidence.”

Nathan Law taking oath. Photo: Stanley Leung/HKFP.

Nathan Law Kwun-chung, one of the four members to be challenged in court, said the fund is also about defending the Legislative Council.

Pro-democratic legislators have traditionally used the oath-taking ceremony as a means of protest, but never before have there been such repercussions. The High Court postponed hearing the government’s judicial review against the lawmakers until February.

Koel Chu is a second-year journalism and fine arts student at the University of Hong Kong. Born and raised in Hong Kong, Koel is interested in the arts and urban design. She interned at China Radio International in Beijing and, at her university, she also works as Vice-President of Branding and Marketing in AIESEC, the largest youth-run organisation in the world.