The “king of judicial review” Kwok Cheuk-kin is filing a legal challenge over what he says are the justice secretary’s differing attitudes towards cases involving oath-swearing by officials and lawmakers.
Kwok says he believes Rimsky Yuen acted inconsistently between a case involving former chief executive Leung Chun-ying and others involving ousted legislators. Kwok has called it “extremely unfair.”
Kwok said that Yuen has violated Article 25 of the Basic Law, which states that “All Hong Kong residents shall be equal before the law.”
In his writ, Kwok said that the justice secretary was unfair in that public funds were used to employ a lawyer for Leung Chun-ying, despite the fact he was only chief executive-elect at the time of his oath-swearing ceremony and not a public official.
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Even though the six legislators were already in public office when they faced a judicial review challenge, the Department of Justice did not hire lawyers for them with public funds or cover their legal costs, he said. Only Leung Kwok-hung was granted legal aid.
Kwok had lodged a legal challenge over the oath taken by Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying, as Leung omitted the words “Hong Kong” during the ceremony. Kwok’s request was rejected on the basis that his application suffered from an undue delay – four years and four months after Leung was sworn in.
Kwok expects to be asked for around HK$3 million in legal costs, but said he would not be deterred by bankruptcy. Kwok was earlier barred from applying for legal aid over the next three years, after the authorities considered his conduct amounted to an abuse of the legal aid system.
“I’m not scared of bankruptcy. I’m not scared of anything. So I’m pushing ahead. Even without legal aid, I’m still doing it,” Kwok said outside the court on Monday.
Ousted legislator Yau Wai-ching was seen outside the court in support of Kwok. “I personally respect [Kwok] very much. He is someone who uses his own methods to defend his and Hongkongers’ core values.”
Yau also said she felt ashamed, because even though she was elected by the people of Hong Kong, she was unable to protect them, and now needed others to protect her.
Beijing handed down a controversial interpretation of the Basic Law last November to retroactively stipulate how legislators should take their oaths.