Two pro-democracy lawmakers said on Monday that they will not plead guilty to charges related to a protest that took place at a Legislative Council meeting earlier this year.
Democratic Party lawmakers Lam Cheuk-ting and Andrew Wan were each charged with the offence of obstructing legislature officers from exercising duties.
This offence is under section 19(b) of the Legislative Council (Powers and Privileges) Ordinance. The maximum punishment is a HK$10,000 fine and a twelve-month jail sentence.
Wan will also be charged with an extra count of common assault. The charges relate to a meeting that took place on June 13 in which lawmakers were debating the controversial joint checkpoint arrangement for the Guangzhou-Shenzhen-Hong Kong Express Rail Link.
At the time, pro-democracy lawmakers chanted slogans and posed questions to the legislature’s president as a way of obstructing officials from speaking.
Security guards removing the two lawmakers claimed to have been injured in the process. Lam and Wan also claim to have been injured.
“We will not surrender to the Carrie Lam administration,” Lam said on Monday, as he and Wan appeared at the Wan Chai police headquarters for an appointment with the force ahead of their arrest. When queried on his feelings towards her leadership, he added; “I have no expectations for Carrie Lam… she has done a lot of ugly things.”
Lam claimed that he had not left his seat during the protest, that he had only protested verbally and was removed by a guard after a few minutes.
“Being a lawmaker is a high-risk job,” he said. “One may be arrested, charged, and jailed.”
Wan said on Monday that during the protest he had been kicked out of the chamber by the legislature’s president, just around three seconds after receiving one warning.
“The charges are ridiculous,” he said. “I have no intention of assaulting anyone.”
Last year, the government charged former lawmaker “Long Hair” Leung Kwok-hung with contempt of the legislature after he took several documents from a Hong Kong government official at a legislative meeting in 2016.
Magistrate Ada Yim ruled in March that the “contempt” provision within section 17 in the Legislative Council (Powers and Privileges) Ordinance did not apply to lawmakers. Leung was a lawmaker when the incident occurred. The government is appealing the ruling.
Leung arrived at the police headquarters on Monday to show support for Lam and Wan, saying that the government was trying to find new different laws with which to charge lawmakers.
“In the future, lawmakers may be charged for peaceful protests,” he said. “I don’t see any reason [why Lam and Wan] should plead guilty.”
Leung also said that he believed the government targeted Lam and Wan because they launched a campaign to raise funds to investigate former chief executive Leung Chun-ying’s HK$50 million UGL payment controversy.