“I have asked for legal advice, I believe there is room [for argument] in appealing,”said Lau. “But of course there is risk.”
Two other recently disqualified lawmakers, including Edward Yiu and Nathan Law, had previously noted that the cost for appeal could be too high for them to bear.
Accountancy sector lawmaker Kenneth Leung said the existing pro-democracy camp lawmakers will share the burden of the HK$1.6 million in legal fees: “I am grateful our camp showed great unity in support of us,” said Lau.
Leung Kwok-hung said he has received legal aid and will apply for the appeal next Monday – the deadline.
“I am rather poor, so I don’t have to pay – you don’t have to worry about my finances,” he said.
Leung lives in public housing and donates much of his salary to NGOs.
He said the pro-democracy camp was very busy because of recent political incidents, such as the jailing of 16 activists. Thus, the decision to appeal and the gathering of funds was late.
Justice Defence Fund
Joseph Cheng, organiser of the Justice Defence Fund, said that HK$8.26 million had been raised as of Thursday. Of which, HK$7.43 million was allocated for the four disqualified lawmakers, whilst the rest was used to support nine other activists.
Of the HK$7.43 million, HK$4.55 million was spent during the Court of First Instance hearings. There is HK$2.88 million left for the four.
“Of course, we all know HK$2.88 million may not be enough for the appeals that will be going on – it may be just enough for Lau Siu-lai’s appeal, but not enough for the wages and subsidies that they could be asked to return,” Cheng said, as he urged more donations.
Leung also said the current funds they have “are far from enough.”
If any of the four have to declare bankruptcy, then he or she will not be able to run again in the by-elections, according to election laws.
Leung Kwok-hung said Barnabas Fung, the chair of the Electoral Affairs Commission, should decide the dates for the by-elections for the seats of Youngspiration’s Yau Wai-ching and Baggio Leung, who failed in their final appeal last month. They hinted that they would not be running in the by-elections.
“It has been ten days since their final appeal,” Leung Kwok-hung said. “Please ask Barnabas Fung.”
Legal sector lawmaker Dennis Kwok said he expected it may take more than six months for the Court of Appeal to schedule hearings for Lau and Leung’s cases, and another three to four months for the court to hand down its rulings.
Kwok urged Fung to arrange by-elections for the other vacant seats as soon as possible, after next Monday.
“[Fung] cannot delay anymore. The legal landscape is very straight forward,” Kwok said.
Edward Yiu, one of the other two disqualified lawmakers, has said he may not appeal and would consider running for a direct election seat in the by-elections.
The other disqualified lawmaker, Nathan Law, is currently imprisoned. His jail sentence was more than three months and thus he was stripped of his right to run for elections in five years, according to election laws.
Both Lau Sau-lai and Leung Kwok-hung did not give a clear answer as to whether they will join the by-elections.
Yau and Lau were elected in the Kowloon West constituency, whilst Leung Kwok-hung and Baggio Leung were elected in the New Territories East constituency.
The appeals may force the government to host separate by-elections for the two vacant seats in each constituency. The pro-democracy camp had said it has a better chance to win back the seats under a first-past-the-post by-election, instead of having by-elections for both seats in each constituency at the same time.
“I want to tell the chief executive: You said you will not take advantage of us in holding by-elections, then – after Monday – you should start the procedures to launch by-elections,” Dennis Kwok said.