Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Reflections on Maverick Legislator Longhair (The Hon Mr Leung Kwok Hung)

“I fight, therefore I am” - Leung Kwok Hung’s 20 Years of Legal Battles in the Court
Editors: Melody Chan, Kristine Chan, Gardenia Kwok, Raphael Wong, Daniel Tam 
June 2016, Up Publications Limited, 254 pp.
Description: In the past twenty years, Leung Kwok Hung (Longhair) was involved in one new lawsuit every year on average. Some are judicial reviews, some are criminal appeals. In many of these cases, he did not hire any lawyer. He even defended himself in the Court of Final Appeal against charges under the Public Order Ordinance. He won numerous cases that brought about legislative changes and compelled the government to withdraw unconstitutional policies. The cases cover all topics: democracy, human rights and livelihood, which all have far-reaching impacts.

"Leung Kwok Hung (Longhair)’s contribution to public law"
Professor Johannes MM Chan SC (Hon)
You may think you know Mr. Leung Kwok Hung (Longhair) well enough, but his name means something else to legal scholars – Leung Kwok Hung is the name for a series of cases. Over the years he challenged the government by judicial means. His challenges clarified grey areas in the law and reiterated some core legal values. His contribution is undeniable. He was involved in, broadly speaking, two types of cases: (1) judicial reviews where he was the applicant, and (2) criminal prosecutions where he was the defendant. His judicial review cases cover different areas of law, some relate to the challenges against the political system, and some concern fundamental human rights and freedoms. The criminal prosecutions he faced mostly related to the Public Order Ordinance...

"Occupy Central, Umbrella and Long Hair" 
"Occupy Central" and "Umbrella Movement" are by far the most impactful moments in the history of Hong Kong's Democratic movement. "Occupy Central" and "Umbrella" are interrelated, yet not the same. "Occupy Central" involved long and complex strategic planning, while the "Umbrella Movement" was a reactive and spontaneous movement sparked by the police’s decision to fire tear gas at demonstrators. Although both emphasised non-violence civil disobedience, the form of disobedience is different. The "Occupy Central" was passive and strategic-driven, whereas the "Umbrella Movement" was proactive and drive by individual protestors that acted on their own beliefs. Nevertheless, be it "Occupy Central" or "Umbrella Movement", one could clearly see the presence and thoughts of ‘Long Hair’ throughout the movements.
     Leung Kwok Hung, better known as Long Hair, has always been at the frontline of Hong Kong's social movements. Long Hair’s beliefs remain the same throughout the years: from the early days when he charged the police cordon line carrying a coffin (an action not accepted by the public then) to his becoming the "King of Votes" in the New Territories East constituency election, securing a seat in the Legislative Council. It was Hong Kong people that had changed, they have become more familiar with social movements. With the intensified social differences and the lack of progress in the political system reform, Long Hair's beliefs, which he acted on, became the core ingredients of today’s social movements, despite initially not recognised by many.
     Whether one agrees with Long Hair's protest strategies or not, no one who has genuinely participated in Hong Kong's democratic and social movement can deny Long Hair's contributions. All participants have been, to a certain degree, influenced by Long Hair, be it little or huge, willingly or unwillingly, aware or unaware, actively or pessimistically, positively or negatively. It is foreseeable that Long Hair will continue to have an impact on Hong Kong's democratic and political development in the 10 years to come, if not longer... 

"Social Activism Through the Courts: The Case of Leung Kwok Hung"
As a Canadian lawyer who became a Hong Kong legal academic in 2001, the idea of using courts to achieve socio-political ends was familiar. Ian Brodie describes the Canadian experience in these terms: 
Since the 1970s, the Supreme Court and other Canadian courts have seen a new kind of interest group activity—not sporadic efforts by loosely organized communities or ad hoc coalitions, but systematic, planned litigation campaigns by groups organized to wage long-term battles in the courts. (Ian Brodie, Friends of the court: privileging of interest group litigants in Canada (Albany: State University of New York Press, 2002) xiv.)
Working for the Ministry of the Attorney General for Ontario, I experienced the role of a government lawyer in helping to shape the development of the law in human rights cases. From this background, I observed with great interest and from different perspectives, the Honourable Mr Leung Kwok Hung’s own long-term battles in the Hong Kong courts.
     In various capacities but all for the opposing government side, I was involved in four of Mr Leung’s early cases. All four cases were concerned with weighty questions of constitutional law, and the judgments in those cases remain important precedents on the respective issues...

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