“Liberal” solicitors have won four out of the five vacancies in the annual Law Society council election, despite the society’s president endorsing their competitors.

The Law Society of Hong Kong held an annual general meeting on Thursday to elect new members to replace the council’s five longest-standing solicitors. Ten candidates – forming two five-person alliances – ran in the race, with four from the liberal camp claiming victory.

Law Society of Hong Kong. Photo: inmediahk.net.

Kenneth Lam, Janet Pang, Davyd Wong and Michelle Tsoi each won over 3,000 votes from more than 10,000 registered members.

Lam told the press that the election results were an indicator of solicitors’ expectations towards the legal body: “The [election] results clearly show that fellow solicitors put their trust in the Law Society to vocally defend the rule of law,” he said. “With this endorsement, we will actively participate in the council and… enhance the Law Society’s transparency and engage more members in the future.”

“Rule of law in Hong Kong is under great threat in recent years and we are deeply concerned. By standing in the election we wish to bring liberal voices, that will stand firm to defend the rule of law, into the council.”

Lam said he wished the newly-elected council members would participate in the discussion on the national security law, as it has a large impact on Hong Kong’s legal system.

Election campaign of the “liberal” voices in 2020 Law Society Council Election. Photo: Facebook.

In an interview with HKFP, Lam said that members were disappointed by the Law Society’s slow response and inaction at times of crises, for instance when the government attempted to impose the now-axed extradition bill that sparked city-wide unrest since last June.

“At these critical times I believe that our members expect professional bodies to come out, speak up and defend our system and the rule of law,” he told HKFP then. 

Law scholar Eric Cheung and human rights solicitor Mark Daly were among 20 members that are considered “liberal” on the council. Previous elections generated council members that were believed to have inclinations towards the pro-establishment camps.

President solicited for candidates

Incumbent President Melissa Pang previously solicited for five candidates on her personal WhatsApp, sparking a debate over her neutrality as well as the fairness of the election, CitizenNews reported.

Hong Kong Law Society President Melissa Pang. Photo: Kris Cheng/HKFP.

The Law Society released a press statement on May 14 in response to the controversy: “Council members including the President… are entitled to hold personal views as to the calibre of individual candidates, express preferences and exercise discretion to vote in the Council election.”

Melissa Pang said at a press conference that she did not use the resources of the Society to assist any candidate, adding that the messages were personal. “Politically speaking, the Law Society is colour-blind,” she said.

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Rachel Wong

Rachel Wong previously worked as a documentary producer and academic researcher. She has a BA in Comparative Literature and European Studies from the University of Hong Kong. She has contributed to A City Made by People and The Funambulist, and has an interest in cultural journalism and gender issues.