An elderly Hong Kong pro-democracy activist has been ordered to pay around HK$510,000 to the Department of Justice after his application to launch a legal challenge against the police over their display of identification during the 2019 protests was dismissed by court, local media reported.

Chan Ki-Kau – commonly known as Grandpa Chan of protest group Protect Our Kids – appeared in front of Master Dick Ho at the High Court on Tuesday. The hearing was to discuss the court fees owed by Chan for his failed bid, The Witness reported.

Chan Ki-kau grandpa chan china extradition
Activist Chan Ki-kau, also known as ‘Grandpa Chan.’

The 77-year-old filed the initial challenge in June 2019 and alleged that it was “unlawful and/or unconstitutional” for the police Special Tactical Contingent (STC), also known as “raptors,” not to display their unique identification numbers during operations on June 12, 2019.

However, Judge Anderson Chow dismissed Chan’s application in November 2020, citing evidence that STC had never been required to display individual identification. Chan was later ordered to pay the court fees for the Department of Justice by January 17 this year.

Government lawyers said during Tuesday’s hearing that Chan had not said whether he agreed with the list of fees set out by the department, but kept raising questions. They urged the court to rule that the government should get the amount owed directly.

In response, Chan said he had filed the legal challenge because he saw “injustice,” but was unsuccessful due to his education level.

“How much suffering must we bear before rule of law can be safeguarded?” Chan asked. When Ho asked if Chan hoped for the court to exempt him from the fees, Chan agreed and urged the court to consider “public interest.”

But Ho said he had no power to overturn the order handed down by the Court of First Instance. “To put it bluntly, I am only in charge of the calculation,” Ho said.

High Court.
High Court. File photo: Kyle Lam/HKFP.

In the end, Ho ruled that he would accept the list put forward by the government lawyers, with some of the amount written off.

According to Ming Pao, the Department of Justice had initially asked for around HK$510,000. Ho reportedly reduced that amount by about HK$2,000.

Breach of Bill of Rights

While Chan’s bid failed, Judge Anderson Chow ruled in favour of the Hong Kong Journalists Association and others in their challenges against the police over the use of identification during protests.

Chow said the Hong Kong Bill of Rights was breached when the police commissioner failed to ensure riot police and officers from the special tactical unit displayed their unique identification numbers or marks when carrying out non-covert duties.

The government is currently appealing the court decision but the date for the appeal hearing has not yet fixed.

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Peter Lee is a reporter for HKFP. He was previously a freelance journalist at Initium, covering political and court news. He holds a Global Communication bachelor degree from CUHK.