The first Hong Kong district councillor to be disqualified from office after winning a seat in the 2019 election is seeking the right to appeal against the High Court decision which barred him from office.

Democratic Party district councillor Hinson Hung has also revealed that he is launching a crowdfunding campaign to help with his mounting legal fees in the case.

Hung, who was elected to represent the Tsui Ping Constituency in Kwun Tong by a hefty majority, was disqualified by High Court judge Anderson Chow last month after his opponent, Cheng Keung-fung, filed a legal challenge against the result of the 2019 district council election.

He is the first pro-democracy district councillor to be formally disqualified among a number who are expected to be barred after winning seats in the 2019 election, mainly in connection with an oath-taking controversy.

Hinson Hung and Lo Kin-hei
Hinson Hung (middle) and Lo Kin-hei (left) meeting the press on Thursday. Photo: Democratic Party, via video screenshot.

Hung said he had already filed an application to appeal against Chow’s decision to the Court of Final Appeal following discussions with his legal team. The court will make a decision on whether to hear his appeal on June 8.

Hung also announced that he was launching a crowdfunding campaign to help with outstanding legal fees and future expenses. The 23-year-old said he already owed close to HK$1 million because he had to pay both his and Cheng’s expenses in the case.

Hung said that thanks to the support of the public, he had “a certain level of confidence” in the crowdfunding campaign.

“I believe that I am representing their [the public’s] opinion this time, and I hope to continue to walk with them via this crowdfunding campaign, I can’t see a situation where the goal is not met,” said Hung.

He added the Democratic Party had loaned him HK$500,000, but that the organisation was under immense financial pressure as other members were also facing charges.

Hinson Hung crowdfunding campaign
Hinson Hung’s crowdfunding campaign “Crowdfunding to appeal against disqualification.” Photo: Website screenshot.

Party chairman, Lo Kin-hei, said that the party was facing an ”eight-figure” financial deficit.

“Apart from doing whatever we can in the party with whatever resources we have,” said Lo. “We hope that Hong Kong citizens can help support us, especially with this election petition appeal.”

Hung was accused by his opponent of making false statements claiming that Cheng was not an independent candidate in his promotional materials.

During the 2019 election, Hung had pointed out that Cheng was part of a pro-establishment group called Positive Synergy. He also used slogans such as “Be aware of fake independents” in election leaflets.

count district council election box november 11 (16)
2019 District Council election. Photo: May James/HKFP.

Chow ruled that since Cheng never claimed to be an independent candidate, Hung was misleading the public by calling Cheng a “fake independent,” and hence was unduly elected. This made Hung the first district councillor elected in 2019 to be disqualified after pro-democracy candidates swept the district council elections, winning 388 out of 479 seats.

Choy Chak-hung, president of Kwun Tong district council, said the council would support Hung’s appeal.

“[Hung] is one of our 28 pro-democracy district councillor in Kwun Tong, we will definitely fully support any of his requests or actions,” said Choy.

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Candice is a reporter at Hong Kong Free Press. She previously worked as a researcher at a local think tank. She has a BSocSc in Politics and International Relations from the University of Manchester and a MSc in International Political Economy from London School of Economics.