Nathan Law

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Nathan Law Kwun-chung
羅冠聰
Law Kwun Chung5.png
1st Chairman of Demosistō
In office
10 April 2016 – 16 May 2018
Preceded byOffice Created
Succeeded byIvan Lam
Member of the Legislative Council
In office
1 October 2016 – 12 October 2016a
Preceded byJasper Tsang
Succeeded byAu Nok-hin
ConstituencyHong Kong Island
58th Secretary General of Hong Kong Federation of Students
In office
1 April 2015 – 31 March 2016
Preceded byAlex Chow
Succeeded byChan Man-hei
Personal details
BornNathan Law Kwun-chung
(1993-07-13) 13 July 1993 (age 25)
Shenzhen, Guangdong, China
CitizenshipHong Kong
NationalityChinese
Political partyDemosistō
ResidenceTung Chung, New Territories
EducationLingnan University
Alma materHKFEW Wong Cho Bau Secondary School
OccupationPolitician
Known for2014 Hong Kong protests
Umbrella Movement
Activist in jail
Nathan Law
Traditional Chinese羅冠聰
Simplified Chinese罗冠聪

Nathan Law Kwun-chung (Chinese: 羅冠聰; born 13 July 1993) is a politician and activist in Hong Kong. As a former student leader, he has been chairman of the Representative Council of the Lingnan University Students' Union (LUSU), acting president of the LUSU, and secretary-general of the Hong Kong Federation of Students (HKFS). He was one of the student leaders during the 79-day Umbrella Movement in 2014. He is the former chairman of Demosistō, a new political party derived from the 2014 protests.

On 4 September 2016, at the age of 23, Law was elected to serve as a legislator from the Hong Kong Island geographic constituency, making him the youngest lawmaker in the history of the Legislative Council of Hong Kong. Over his controversial oath-taking at the Legislative Council inaugural meeting, his office was challenged by the government which resulted in his disqualification from the Legislative Council on 14 July 2017.[1]

Early life[edit]

Law was born on 13 July 1993 in Shenzhen, Guangdong, China, to a Hong Kong father and a Mainland mother. He moved to Hong Kong with his mother for a family reunion when he was around six years old.[2] He received his secondary education at HKFEW Wong Cho Bau Secondary School, and is currently an undergraduate majoring in Cultural Studies at Lingnan University (LU).

Student activism[edit]

Law was active in student activism and participated the 2013 Hong Kong dock strike. He joined and became the chairman of the Representative Council of the Lingnan University Students' Union and was the committee member of the Hong Kong Federation of Students (HKFS). He later also became the acting president of the Lingnan University Students' Union (LUSU).

During the Umbrella Revolution, he rose as one of the student leaders and was one of the five student representatives to hold a talk in a televised open debate with the government representatives led by Chief Secretary for Administration Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor with HKFS secretary general Alex Chow Yong-kang, vice secretary Lester Shum, general secretary Eason Chung, and another committee member Yvonne Leung in October 2014.[3][4][5][6] He was also one of three student leaders at the heart of the Occupy protests whose Home Return Permits were revoked and were banned from flying to Beijing in an attempt to press their demands for genuine universal suffrage in November 2014.[7][8] After the protests, he was arrested along with other student leaders.[9]

After the protests, Law succeeded Alex Chow to become the secretary general of Hong Kong Federation of Students from 2015 to 2016. He won with 37 votes from the 53 student representatives from seven tertiary institutions qualified to vote in the annual election in March 2015. His only rival, Jason Szeto Tze-long, secured 14 votes.[8] His secretaryship was highlighted by the disaffiliation crisis that saw localist students from member institutions trigger referendums to break away from the HKFS which was accused of making hasty decisions with little transparency during the Umbrella Revolution.[8]

Law campaigned against the referendum at the LU as the acting president of the LUSU which the referendum to break away from HKFS was defeated. However, three student unions of the Hong Kong Polytechnic University (HKPU), Hong Kong Baptist University (HKBU) and City University of Hong Kong (CityU) quit the federation in their referendums under Law's secretaryship, following the Hong Kong University Students' Union (HKUSU) exit in February 2015.

Legislative Councillor and disqualification[edit]

In April 2016, Law and other leaders of the Umbrella Revolution including Joshua Wong Chi-fung formed a new political party Demosistō which aimed to fight for the self-determination right of Hong Kong people when the "one country, two systems" expires in 2047, where he became the founding chairman of the new party. He has expressed his interest in running in Hong Kong Island in the 2016 Legislative Council election.[10]

Law received 50,818 votes, the second-highest among all candidates for the six-seat Hong Kong Island constituency, and was elected.[11] After his win, Law claimed that "people are voting (for) a new way and a new future for the democratic movement". Law was elected alongside allies Lau Siu-lai and Eddie Chu.[12] At age 23, Law was the youngest-ever person to become a Hong Kong legislator.[13]

At the inaugural meeting of the Legislative Council, Law and other members used the oath-taking ceremony as a protest platform. Law made an opening statement saying that the oath ceremony had already become the "political tool" of the regime, adding "you can chain me, you can torture me, you can even destroy this body, but you will never imprison my mind". When taking the oath, Law also rose his intonation on the word "國" to the phrase "the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region of the People's Republic of China" (中華人民共和國香港特別行政區).[14]

Although Law's oath was validated by the clerk, the oath-taking controversy sparked by Sixtus Leung and Yau Wai-ching of Youngspiration led to the unprecedented legal challenge from Chief executive Leung Chun-ying and Secretary for Justice Rimsky Yuen. On 7 November 2016, the National People's Congress Standing Committee (NPCSC) interpreted of the Article 104 of the Basic Law of Hong Kong, standardising the manners of the oath-taking when taking public office. As a result, the duo were disqualified by the court. Subsequently, the government launched a second legal action against Law and three other pro-democracy legislators, Lau Siu-lai, Yiu Chung-yim and Leung Kwok-hung, which resulted in their disqualifications from the Legislative Council on 14 July 2017.[1]

Imprisonment[edit]

(L to R) Joshua Wong and Nathan Law freed on bail outside the Court of Final Appeal, 24 October 2017.

Law, along with two other prominent Hong Kong pro-democracy student leaders Joshua Wong and Alex Chow, were jailed for six to eight months on 17 August 2017 for storming the Civic Square at the Central Government Complex at Tamar during a protest that triggered the 79-day Occupy sit-ins of 2014. The sentence also "halted their budding political careers", as they are barred from running for public office for five years.[15] Law was sent to the medium-security Tong Fuk Correctional Institution on Lantau Island.

On 24 October 2017 Nathan Law and Joshua Wong were granted bail by Hong Kong's chief justice, Geoffrey Ma, while Alex Chow didn't appeal for bail and continued serving his 7 months jail term. Under bail condition, Nathan Law and Joshua Wong have to live in their Hong Kong home addresses and must report weekly to police until 7 November 2017, when the trio appeals over their jail terms have set to be heard. Law stepped out of the Court of Final Appeal doors with his girlfriend, Tiffany Yuen Ka-wai. Later Law and Wong were participating in a Hong Kong radio program where Nathan Law said he named his son that born after Umbrella Revolution with Chinese term for "Aspiration" in order to not forget the aspirations to help Hong Kong.[16][17][18]

Nobel Peace Prize nomination[edit]

On 1 February 2018, a bipartisan group of US lawmakers, led by Congressional-Executive Commission on China (CECC) Chair US Senator Marco Rubio and co-chair US Representative Chris Smith announced they had nominated[19] Joshua Wong, Law, Alex Chow and the entire Umbrella Movement for the 2018 Nobel Peace Prize, for "their peaceful efforts to bring political reform and protect the autonomy and freedoms guaranteed Hong Kong in the Sino-British Joint Declaration".[20]

See also[edit]

Notes[edit]

^a Law served as member of the Legislative Council until 14 July 2017 when his oath was invalidated and his seat was vacated according to the ruling of the Court of First Instance.

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b "Four More Hong Kong Lawmakers Ousted in a Blow to Democratic Hopes". Time. 14 July 2017.
  2. ^ "羅冠聰忙政事少歸家 母:同吃一頓飯就夠". Ming Pao. 7 May 2016.
  3. ^ Siu, Jasmine (20 October 2014). "Middle man vows fairness" Archived 2 June 2015 at the Wayback Machine.. The Standard.
  4. ^ 政府學聯各派五人出席下周政改對話 [Government and Students Federation in dialogue together] (in Chinese). 19 October 2014. Retrieved 19 October 2014.
  5. ^ "Hong Kong protest talks agree little". CNN. 21 October 2014. Retrieved 25 October 2014.
  6. ^ Kevin Cheng, (22 October 2014). "Patience is virtue for Lam" Archived 2 June 2015 at the Wayback Machine.. The Standard
  7. ^ Ng, Joyce; Nip, Amy & Lau, Stuart (15 November 2014). "Beijing bans student leaders from taking trip to mainland to press for democracy". South China Morning Post. Retrieved 30 November 2014.
  8. ^ a b c "Hong Kong Federation of Students elects Nathan Law as secretary general". South China Morning Post. 23 March 2015.
  9. ^ 星島新聞集團 (2015). 讀社論學英文第七卷. Sing Tao Publishing. p. 217.
  10. ^ "Joshua Wong's party named 'Demosisto'". Radio Television Hong Kong. 6 April 2016.
  11. ^ "(HK elections) Nathan Law elected as youngest lawmaker; Ricky Wong falls short". The Standard. 5 September 2016. Retrieved 6 September 2016.
  12. ^ The Associated Press (5 September 2016). "Hong Kong Pro-Democracy Candidates Retain Veto in Key Vote". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 6 September 2016.
  13. ^ Gupta, Priyanka (6 September 2016). "Q&A with Hong Kong's youngest legislator Nathan Law". Al Jazeera. Retrieved 6 September 2016.
  14. ^ "In The High Court of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region Court of First Instance Miscellaneous Proceedings No 3379 of 2016". Dept of Justice, Government of Hong Kong.
  15. ^ Siu, Jasmine (17 August 2017). "Joshua Wong and other jailed Hong Kong student leaders see political careers halted". South China Morning Post.
  16. ^ Siu, Jasmine (24 October 2017). "Occupy leaders Joshua Wong and Nathan Law freed on bail and raring to continue democracy fight". South China Morning Post. Retrieved 28 October 2017.
  17. ^ Chiu, Peace (25 October 2017). "Food, haircuts and prison pay – what Hong Kong Occupy leaders Joshua Wong and Nathan Law thought about life behind bars". South China Morning Post. Retrieved 28 October 2017.
  18. ^ "Occupy student leaders vow to keep up the fight". Hong Kong Economic Journal. 26 October 2017. Retrieved 28 October 2017.
  19. ^ Lai, Catherine (1 February 2018). "Group of US lawmakers nominate Hong Kong's Umbrella Movement for Nobel Peace Prize". Hong Kong Free Press. Retrieved 2 February 2018.
  20. ^ "Chairs Release 2017 Annual Report—Announce New Initiatives on Hong Kong & Commemoration of Liu Xiaobo". Congressional-Executive Commission on China. Washington, DC. 5 October 2017. Retrieved 7 October 2017.
Political offices
Preceded by
Alex Chow
Secretary General of Hong Kong Federation of Students
2015–2016
Succeeded by
Chan Man-hei
Party political offices
New title Chairman of Demosistō
2016–present
Incumbent
Legislative Council of Hong Kong
Preceded by
Jasper Tsang
Member of Legislative Council
Representative for Hong Kong Island
2016
Succeeded by
Au Nok-hin