Hong Kong’s justice chief Teresa Cheng and Law Society condemn protesters’ attack on lawyer

Chris Lau

Hong Kong’s justice minister has expressed shock over an attack by protesters on a lawyer during Sunday’s demonstration against Beijing’s proposed national security law, while the head of the city’s barristers called the act deplorable.

Protesters badly beat up lawyer Chan Tsz-chin, a partner at Cheung and Liu Solicitors, after he argued with them as they created roadblocks on Lee Garden Road in Causeway Bay, according to the police.

Video clips widely circulated on social media showed several black-clad men striking the 40-year-old’s head and torso with umbrellas. He was sent to Ruttonjee Hospital with injuries to his head, arm and back. Police are looking for 10 suspects, aged between 20 and 40.

Secretary for Justice Teresa Cheng Yeuk-wah’s office said she learned about the attack from news footage and felt “shocked and distressed”.

“The secretary does not agree with any violent acts, let alone attacking passers-by or those who hold a different opinion,” the office said, adding the law did not permit anyone to resort to violence, no matter what the aim.

The president of the Law Society, Melissa Kaye Pang, on Sunday condemned the attack on its member.

Former chief executive officer Leung Chun-ying said a fund he had established would offer a HK$300,000 (US$38,600) reward to anyone who brought the assailants to justice.

Hong Kong lawyer attacked by black-clad mob near protests against proposed national security law

Last November, Chan attended a Legislative Council session in a personal capacity to support a controversial law banning the use of masks, which was aimed at barring radical protesters from hiding their identities during the height of the anti-government protests.

Bar Association chairman Philip Dykes SC noted Chan might not have been attacked for his role as a lawyer, as the protesters might not have recognised him.

But he said: “I deplore such attacks, irrespective of the person’s status or views.”

Secretary for Justice Teresa Cheng Yeuk-wah. Photo: Jonathan Wong

At 6pm, about 200 lawyers met through the Zoom virtual meeting platform in a session organised by the Lawyers HK group, whose members condemn violence and seek to educate the public on legal issues.

They sent wishes for a speedy recovery to Chan through Pang.

Legal sector lawmaker Dennis Kwok also wished him a quick recovery and offered his sympathies, although he stopped short of criticising the perpetrators.

Instead, he expressed “shock” the Law Society had failed to issue condemnation equally promptly when a blind lawyer was earlier insulted by police officers and another lawyer was dragged out of his car by police.

Hong Kong’s Chief Justice Geoffrey Ma issues rare public rebuke of judge who compared protesters to ‘terrorist army’

Police were accused of using excessive force during last year’s anti-government protests, sparked by the government’s now-withdrawn extradition bill.

But in a report released by the Independent Police Complaints Council earlier this month, the police watchdog found force was used in response to the level of violence used by protesters, and no systematic problem existed.

On Thursday, more than 10,000 solicitors are expected to vote for five seats on the Law Society’s 20-member council. A group campaigning on an apolitical stance – consisting of Warren Ganesh, Simon McConnell, Robert Rhoda, Olivia Kung and Cynthia Yen – expressed concern over the attack.

“We condemn all forms of violence. However strong differences in opinion may be, violence is never the solution,” they said.

Another group calling for the Law Society to be more vocal on legal issues concerning Hong Kong wished Chan a “full and speedy recovery”.

Hong Kong needs national security law because it is ‘easy target for hostile foreign opportunists’: former leader Tung Chee-hwa

They said in a statement that Sunday’s protest involved “violence against individuals, mass arrests and use of force against peaceful protesters”, which were all of grave concern.

“We condemn all forms of unlawful violence,” said the group, consisting of Kenneth Lam, Davyd Wong, Michelle Tsoi Wing-tai, Gordon Chan Ka-ho and Civic Party member Janet Pang Ho-yan.

On Monday, a spokesman for the Food and Environmental Hygiene Department conveyed its regards to an outsourced cleaning worker and her family after she was found ill in a public toilet on Canal Road during her shift on Sunday. She was in hospital in critical condition.

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