The leader and two members of the League of Social Democrats (LSD) – one of the few active pro-democracy groups remaining in Hong Kong – have pleaded not guilty to collecting donations without a permit at street booths in Mong Kok.

Chan Po-ying
Chan Po-ying, the chairperson of the League of Social Democrats appeared at the Kowloon City Magistrates’ Courts on February 20, 2023. Photo: Peter Lee/HKFP.

The group’s chairperson Chan Po-ying and members Christina Tang Yuen-ching and Ho Wing-yat appeared in front of Deputy Magistrate Cao Yuan-shan at the Kowloon City Magistrates’ Courts on Monday.

Chan and Tang each faced two counts of “collecting money in public without permit” for allegedly organising, providing equipment for, and participating in the collection of money at a street booth on a footbridge on Sai Yee Street on July 24 and August 14, 2021, without a permit from either the Director of Social Welfare or the Secretary for Home Affairs.

Meanwhile, Ho faces one charge for his role at the street booth in August. All three defendants pleaded not guilty to their charges during Monday’s hearing.

In photos submitted as evidence, QR codes linking to the Patreon accounts of prominent LSD members Leung Kwok-hung, Figo Chan, Avery Ng and Jimmy Sham were seen on banners set up at the two street booths.

The banners in question also displayed QR codes that linked to the donation page on the organisation’s website and a PayMe business account under the name LSD.

Kowloon City Magistrates' Courts
Kowloon City Magistrates’ Courts. Photo: Peter Lee/HKFP.

Words such as “donate to support” and “release all political prisoners” were also shown on the two banners.

The defence argued that no money had been collected.

The maximum sentence for the charge is a HK$2,000 fine or three months of imprisonment.

On the dates in question, all four LSD members featured on the street booth banners were serving sentences over charges linked to the 2019 protests. Leung and Sham are also among the 47 prominent democrats charged of conspiracy to commit subversion under the national security law.

The hearing continued on Monday afternoon.

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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.