Queen’s Counsel David Perry against Martin Lee

January 13, 2021 11:42
Photo: RTHK

All eyes will be watching for what could become the court case of the year on Hong Kong’s right to protest, which is set to open in a month.

On the defense side, they are almost all the key players in the democracy movements since the 80s and together the nine democratic leaders clocked in some 300 years of experience in Hong Kong politics.

Among them, Martin Lee Chu-ming, for a change, will become a defendant, a position he is not familiar despite having more than half a century of experience in court.

Next to him will be Jimmy Lai Chee-ying, presumably among Beijing’s to-remove list under the National Security Law. The list of defendants also includes Long Hair Leung Kwok-hung, Albert Ho Chun-yan and Margaret Ng Ngoi-yee.

But what stole the limelight was the prosecutor David Perry, whose appointment by the Department of Justice was approved by the High Court.

The renowned British Queen’s Counsel had an impeccable record of putting in jail two of the most powerful men in Hong Kong, namely former Chief Executive Donald Tsang in his misconduct case in 2017. Prior to that, former Chief Secretary Rafael Hui Si-yan and Sun Hung Kai Properties’ Thomas Kwok Ping-kwong were jailed in a high-profile corruption case in 2014.

It’s not difficult to see the government’s determination to go after the senior leaders of democracy, arguably much less damaging than the much younger activist leaders.

But to be in the widely-watched case, Perry and his team would have to go through the mandatory quarantine that applies to all overseas visitors, especially to Hong Kong former’s colony.

We certainly hope these British fly-in visitors a healthy trip and they deserve the most hospitable service in Hong Kong, which still struggles to maintain zero virus infection.

But the case will be important enough for the long-distance flight and very likely a long trial that could eventually end up in the Court of Final Appeal.

Explaining his decision yesterday, High court chief judge Jeremy Poon Shiu-chor said he allowed Perry's application as "public interest is the overriding consideration in deciding an ad hoc admission of overseas counsel."

Poon said the court will be asked to resolve the extremely important, difficult and delicate question of how to address, and if necessary, balance the competing interests involved in protecting the fundamental freedom of assembly.

He said, "The constitutional issues will have real and significant impacts on the exercise of the freedom of assembly in the future. They are clearly of great and general importance to t
he development of local jurisprudence in this area."

The case will start on February 16, the fifth day and the first working day of the Year of Ox. Guess what the new Chinese New Year will be anything but boring.
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EJ Insight writer