Unrest legal fund faces huge shortfall

Local | Sophie Hui 21 Jan 2021

A fund helping those arrested in the social unrest to fight their court cases is drying up, with inadequate money left to pay for expenses this month.

The balance of 612 humanitarian relief funds was only HK$1.8 million at the end of last month, while it has an estimated HK$15 million to pay this month.

On its Facebook page yesterday, the fund urged supporters to donate as it has only received HK$2.03 million in donations as of Monday. Around HK$8.37 million was received in December, but the month's expenses were more than HK$18.2 million.

Since the fund was established on June 15, 2019, the largest expense was legal fees, amounting to more than HK$78.5 million. Emergency relief or pensions for those affected were next, at over HK$22.9 million.

Pro-establishment lawmaker Holden Chow Ho-ding of the Democratic Alliance for the Betterment and Progress of Hong Kong raised concerns about the fund in a Legislative Council meeting this month.

He asked Secretary for Security John Lee Ka-chiu whether the government has monitored if the fund is operating legally, including "if it has received funding from outside the territory for those conducting unlawful activities such as endangering national security."

Lee said he would not comment on individual "self-proclaimed funds" but added, "the public should have a clear understanding of their background and claimed objectives to avoid deception or losses."

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