Activist warned on hand signs

Local | Wallis Wang and Michael Shum 22 Jan 2021

A defendant has been warned not to use a protest slogan hand gesture inside court.

Li Kwok-wing, 17, also known as "lunch brother" among activists, yesterday raised one palm and an index finger, showing the numbers five and one - a gesture symbolizing "five demands, not one less."

He appeared at West Kowloon Magistrates' Courts, jointly charged with taking part in an unlawful assembly with his co-defendant, retired female security guard Lai Shui-ying, 65. They will face an additional charge of contempt of court, the Department of Justice told the court earlier.

The two allegedly insulted and harassed Chan Yin-lam's mother outside West Kowloon Magistrates' Courts on August 24.

When yesterday's hearing ended, Li raised his hands and showed the protest gesture to the public gallery in the courtroom.

"What's the matter with you? What do you mean by this gesture at the public gallery?" principal magistrate Peter Law Tak-chuen inquired, asking the defense counsel to explain Li's behavior.

Li said he was just "stretching" and his defense counsel apologized to the court.

"The court is a place to handle cases and not a place for you to express your political views. Do not bring those into the courtroom," Law warned.

But Li held up the gesture again when he walked out of the court building, though only to be stopped by a security guard.

The case has been adjourned to May 5, pending a court hearing on whether Li and Lai committed contempt of court. The two defendants have been released on bail.

The defense also said that the duo have applied for legal aid but are still waiting for approval.

Earlier this month, District Court judge Ernest Lin Kam-hung ordered a lawyer and two observers donning yellow masks to leave the courtroom when hearing a case.

The acronym FDNOL for "five demands, not one less," was also printed on the masks.

With judges under increasing scrutiny amid the polarized political environment, pro-Beijing politicians have proposed a judicial reform, suggesting a sentencing review committee be set up for the public to oversee rulings.

Yesterday, Secretary for Justice Teresa Cheng Yeuk-wah said people should treat the term "judicial reform" with a calm demeanor.

"The Judiciary has done regular reviews within itself and there has been an effective mechanism to appeal against rulings," she said.

"Should there be a judicial reform, it should be led by the Judiciary and the Department of Justice will fully support and cooperate with such reform," she added.

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