Former student leader Lester Shum says he hopes to show responsibility by pleading guilty to a criminal contempt of court charge relating to the 2014 clearance of Mong Kok’s pro-democracy Occupy protest site.

Shum, formerly the deputy secretary-general of the Hong Kong Federation of Students, is among 11 people who plan to plead guilty.

In October 2014, a minibus company successfully applied for an injunction from the court to ban demonstrators from occupying streets in Mong Kok.

Lester Shum. File Photo: Wikimedia Commons.

Shum was arrested by the police on suspicion of violating the injunction, after allegedly obstructing bailiffs at the scene in November that year.

Outside court on Thursday, Shum said he decided to bear the responsibility over the contempt of court charge, after listening to legal advice.

“I believe a prison sentence is unavoidable – I am not concerned at all – this is the responsibility I hope to show myself,” he said.

Activist Alvin Cheng of localist party Civic Passion was previously handed a three-month jail term for the same charge over the incident.

‘Rule of law’

Shum said that, during the incident, the Federation did not believe that challenging the injunction was equal to challenging the rule of law.

“We believe that even if we challenge the injunction, if we admit our actions to the court, we believe we still respected the rule of law,” he said.

“[The injunction] was a political move by the government, which we completely disagreed with,” he added. “This case is pushing the court and protesters to the forefront to handle a political problem created by the Hong Kong government.”

Lester Shum and Joshua Wong at Mong Kok clearance. File

“They did not use the police to clear the scene, the government did not bear any responsibility – rather, they used the court as a shield. This is also why, at that time, we chose to challenge, or violate the injunction.”

He also said he expected more and more pro-democracy activists to receive legal punishment, though their demands for democracy would not be crushed.

Nine other defendants will not plead guilty, including the vice-chairman of the League of Social Democrats Raphael Wong Ho-ming.

Wong said he respected the decision by Shum, but he believed there was room for debate as to whether challenging the injunction was a case of criminal contempt of court.

Kris Cheng

Kris Cheng is a Hong Kong journalist with an interest in local politics. His work has been featured in Washington Post, Public Radio International, Hong Kong Economic Times and others. He has a BSSc in Sociology from the Chinese University of Hong Kong. Kris is HKFP's Editorial Director.