Chief Executive Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor is set to dismiss the application by a co-founder of an outlawed pro-independence party requesting that she step aside when her de facto cabinet handles his appeal against his group’s ban, the South China Morning Post has learned.
Hong Kong National Party’s leader Andy Chan Ho-tin has applied to ask Lam and eight of her Executive Council members to refrain from taking part in the review of the party’s ban because they had commented on the matter before the group was outlawed.
Chan, who made the application in his recent appeal against the ban imposed on September 24, said their participation would be procedurally unfair to the party. Chaired by Lam, the council is comprised of 16 official and 16 non-official members.
Without naming the party directly, Lam said in July that any advocacy of independence in the city “most certainly will face suppression” and said that separatists could face legal consequences when she was asked by the media about the possible ban.
And in August, Lam said that the government would “take action” in handling separatism if any law had been breached after the Foreign Correspondents’ Club hosted a talk by Chan that month.
A source said Lam would take part in the review, while Secretary for Security John Lee Ka-chiu, also an official member of Exco, would be excused from the meeting because he was the one who proposed the ban.
“Lam's case was different, her earlier remarks were only concerned about general policy and stance against independence,” the source said.
The Exco secretariat declined to comment.
“In line with the principle of confidentiality of the Executive Council, we will not comment on the appeal,” the spokesman said.
Ronny Tong Ka-wah, a senior counsel and one of the Exco members who had frequently commented on the party’s ban, said earlier that he would not join the review meeting.
He said on Wednesday that Lam’s case was different, as her previous remark was only against independence and not specific to the party.
“Even if the government opposes independence, it can take action only if [the separatist group] is in breach of the Societies Ordinance,” he said.
Out of the remaining five members Chan asked to be excused from the meeting, both Regina Ip Lau Suk-yee and Horace Cheung Kwok-kwan said they need to seek legal advice from the justice department.
During a Legislative Council debate on Wednesday, Ip however criticised Chan for stirring up hatred against mainlanders in Hong Kong.
“I’m not commenting on the party, I’m only talking about Chan himself,” Ip told the Post.
Apart from Chan, the party’s other co-founder Jason Chow Ho-fai, has also filed a separate appeal against the ban under the Societies Ordinance to the Exco.
While Lee argued the party posed a threat to national security and public order, the pair argued the authority had repeatedly ignored their claim that the party was only making a political expression and never resorted to violence in promoting the independence stance.