At first, you are not there in the cause of your own reflection — the glass of an office-window screens a tired film of dust. Unfazed by vertigo, by the heights slow honesty forces you to climb, you tackle this scenario with time-honoured tools, and where dirt firmly was a pristine sky behind your back now rightly exhibits its show. At this stage in the work, you progress to the stubborn fine detail, removing from vision specks of adherent grit with the deft brute strength of one over-developed hand and an expert chisel-tipped thumb, until, like the silent-movie appearance of some twilight star, the surface goes and you pass puzzled into the picture, up to your wrists in the shifting white form of a cloud. It is here you catch sight of the face you call self, approximate mirror in its own flawed right to a sad life’s untold exertions, but — like nobody else — your vocation has taught you how to see through its look with a champion’s eye and to pause in your puzzle unmarked on our maps where instinct hints at a world renewed without objects.
In InmediaHK’s report on the second day of the trial, two aspects of the prosecution’s opening submission were emphasized: the existence of a promise made by all participants taking part in the primary elections (this “promise” is especially important for those who have opted to plead not guilty to the charge of conspiracy); and the major importance within this promise of the vetoing of the government’s financial budget regardless of what it contained.
The opening submission highlighted four events to try and establish the facts concerning both the “promise” and the importance of the veto of the budget. The first event was the publication by Benny Tai on 28 April 2020 of an essay entitled “The Ten Steps to True Laam Chaau: This Is Hong Kong’s Destiny” [真攬炒十步 這是香港宿命]. The main contents of the article as presented by the prosecution were as follows:
. . . 詳列攬炒十步的時間表和路線圖，提及民主派取得35+後，無差別否決政府撥款申請和財政預算案，令特首解散立法會及辭職，致政府停擺；其後人大將《國安法》直接適用於香港，成立臨時立法會、特首由協商產生、大舉拘押民主派領袖；街頭抗爭變得更激烈，導致當局血腥鎮壓，港人發動三罷令社會陷入停頓；最終一步引起西方國家對中共實行政治及經濟制裁。 . . . listed in detail a timetable and a roadmap for the ten steps of laam chaau. It also stated that, once the democratic parties had obtained [a] 35+ [majority in the legislative council], they would veto — regardless of the contents [無差別] — applications for government funding and the financial budget, causing the chief executive to dissolve LegCo and resign, and bringing the government to a standstill. Afterwards, the People’s Congress [of the People’s Republic of China] would make the National Security Law directly applicable to Hong Kong, establish a provisional legislative council, producing a [new] chief executive through consultation [特首由協商產生] and detaining leaders of the democratic parties in large numbers. Resistance at street-level would become fiercer, leading the authorities to [carry out] a bloody suppression. [In turn], the people of Hong Kong would go on strike on three fronts [that is, work, education and “the markets”] and society would grind to a halt. The final step would cause Western nations to impose political and economic sanctions on the Chinese communist party.
Because this trial is being conducted in English, a huge amount of interpreting is involved. sometimes, there are occasionally significant disputes about the way certain words and phrases get translated into Chinese. During this part of the trial, the judge Andrew Chan Hing-wai interrupted the chief interpreter. The interchange is reported by InmediaHK as follows:
法庭傳譯主任將陳詞譯成中文時，法官陳慶偉一度打斷，指她兩度沒有譯出文中「indiscriminate（無差別）」否決財政預算一詞，指認為該字為本案的「重要字眼（important word）」，傳譯主任後再次翻譯。 When the chief court interpreter was translating the opening submission into Chinese, the judge Andrew Chan interrupted her, saying that she had twice neglected to interpret the word “indiscriminate” with regard to the vetoing of the budget and expressing the opinion that it was “an important word” in this trial. The chief court interpreter retranslated [the relevant parts of the opening submission].
You will notice that “indiscriminate” has been chosen for its negative connotations (compare the use to “indiscriminate slaughter”). My impression is that the Chinese equivalent — 無差別 mouh4 chaa1 biht6 — is neutral in its implications, and could be translated as “without difference” or “without discrimination”.
The second event highlighted by the prosecution was a meeting held in the Western New Territories on 8 May 2020. As reported in 法庭線 The Witness, clandestine footage of this meeting was shown in court, much to the surprise of those defendants present. InmediaHK describes it as 偷拍片段 tau1 paak3 pin3 dyun6, a term that usually refers to a photograph or film that is made without permission. In the footage, Benny Tai again talks about vetoing the budget:
當中戴向與會者指，否決財政預算案是令解散立法會出現「最緊要」一步，「如果否決財政預算案呢，我哋先至會行到去下一步」，望協議能訂明「會運用《基本法》賦予立法會的權力」達到「五大訴求」，以爭取「特赦、懲戒警暴同埋重啟政改」。戴提議新界西跟隨新界東的協議，僅剔除「積極（運用）」的字眼，認為與會者均能同意。控方指，張可森、伍健偉、尹兆堅的代表、譚凱邦和王百羽等人有份參與該次會議。 Benny Tai said to participants that the vetoing of the government’s financial budget would lead to the dissolution of the legislative council and the emergence of “the most important” step. “Only if the budget is vetoed will we be able to take the next step”, in the hope that the coming to a clear agreement [訂明] about the making use “of the power invested in the Legislative Council by the Basic Law to achieve [達到] the Five Demands and to fight for “a special pardon [for arrested protestors], the disciplining pf police officers for violence, and a rebooting of political reform”. Tai suggests that the West New Territories follow the agreement used by the East New Territories, with the exception of the words “make active use of” [that is, the vetoing of the budget], something that those present at the meeting can agree to. The prosecution said that Sam Cheung Ho-sum, Lucifer Ng Kin-wai, Andrew Wan Siu-kin’s representative, Ray Tam Hoi-pong and Henry Wong Pak-yu were among those who attended the meeting.
The third event was a press conference convened to introduce the 35+ scheme to the press:
2020年6月9日，戴耀廷、區諾軒，與民主動力的趙家賢和鍾錦麟召開「民主派35+ 公民投票及眾籌行動」記者會，交代初選安排。戴確認就地區直選、超級區議會及衞生服務界別，曾召開超過10次會議，以達成35+共識，並稱有信心得到「有規範性嘅結果」，又表明不希望製作列表列出各候選人的承諾，以免留下計劃的證據。庭上播放片段，戴耀廷一度稱「大貪啲，唔係講35+，係講40+㗎啦」，何桂藍等被告發出笑聲。 . . . on 9 June 2020, Benny Tai, Au Nok-hin — as well as Andrew Chiu Ka-yin and Ben Chung Kam-lun from Power for Democracy — called a press conference with the title “The Democrats 35+ Public Voting and Crowd-funding Campaign” in which they explained the arrangements for the primary elections. Tai confirmed that more than ten meetings had been convened with [people] in directly elected districts, the super electorates, and the health services sector to arrive at a consensus about 35+. He also said that he was confident that a “normative outcome” had been obtained. He also expressed [the view] that he hoped that a list of candidates who had promised [to abide by the terms of the consensus] would not be made, to avoid leaving evidence of the plan. In the footage shown in court, Tai at one point said: “If I wanted to be a bit greedier, I would not talk about 35+ — I’d talk about 40+”, prompting laughter from Gwyneth Ho and other defendants.
The press conference also included details about the role of the Hong Kong Public Opinion Research Institute and Power for Democracy would play in the primary elections.
The fourth event involved the drafting of a document called “Signed in Ink with No Regrets, Resolute in Resistance”. This also had a bearing on the existence of a promise between all those taking part in the plan:
發起「墨落無悔」聲明的梁晃維、張可森和鄒家成，其後於6月19日重申簽署協議的重要。控方指，區諾軒其後發文回應，重申「就算沒有一份文件出台，但協調的協議實然存在」，並具有約束力，不公開不等於參與者沒有承諾遵守，亦「不見得有參與者對運用權力否決財政預算案態度保留」。 Fergus Leung Fong-wai, Sam Cheung and Owen Chow Ka-shing initiated the “Signed in Ink with No Regrets” declaration, and afterwards, on 19 June, they reiterated the importance of a signed agreement. The prosecution pointed out that Au Nok-hin later wrote a response to this [發文回應] that reiterated: “Even if no document appears publicly, agreement about the co-ordination nevertheless still exists”. [This agreement] also has a binding force and just because it isn’t made public doesn’t mean that participants did not promise to abide by it. [He also wrote]: “I did not see any of the participants show any reservations [態度保留] about making use of their right of veto the financial budget”.
Not surprisingly, the prosecution hinted at the involvement of “foreign forces” [外國勢力] in the conspiracy, partly to suggest that Hong Kong people could not possibly have acted on their own initiative to preserve something of their own civil society from authoritarianism, and partly to suggest insidious “interference” from abroad (the elusive shadow enemy whom no one can ever pin down but who orchestrates all actions that the authorities most disapprove of). It was, of course, not made clear who these “foreign forces” actually were:
控方又指，民主動力是成立於2002年的政治團體，根據其2019至2020年工作報告，它除作為民主派平台，亦在很早以前已尋求外國勢力和團體關注和協助香港內部事務，及散播對政府、立法和行政機關的不滿。 The prosecution said that Power for Democracy was a political group established in 2002. According to its work reports for the years 2019 and 2020, apart from serving as a platform for the democratic parties, it had, from early on its existence [很早以前], sought out foreign forces and groups to take an interest in, and provide assistance for, Hong Kong’s internal affairs, disseminating dissatisfaction with its political, legislative and executive organs.
One would have thought that, given the performance of the Hong Kong government in recent years, no such interference would have been necessary. The government itself did an exemplary job of “disseminating dissatisfaction” without any outside help.
Apart from their thoroughness, another admirable feature of the InmediaHK reports is the concern with the defendants as human beings who manage to express very human qualities despite the appalling predicament in which they find themselves in:
被告入庭時，吳敏兒向旁聽席揮手，又微笑做出心心手勢，岑敖暉則拉下口罩與妻子做手勢交流，有懲教人員着揮手被告「放低手」。前香港眾志黃莉莉帶同兒子到場，黃之鋒和袁嘉蔚等向他揮手。 While in court, one of the defendants, Carol Ng Man-yee, waved in the direction of the public gallery, smiling and making a “heart gesture” with her hands [做出心心手勢]. Lester Shum O-fai then pulled down his face mask and communicated with his wife using hand gestures. A Correctional Services employee waved a hand at the defendant [telling him] to “lower your hands”. Wong Lei-lei [黃莉莉], once a member of the disbanded Demosistō party, came to the court bringing her son. Joshua Wong Chi-fung, Tiffany Yuen Ka-wai and others waved to him.
In this report from 法庭線 The Witness on the second day of the trial, there were five things of particular interest. Firstly, secret footage of one of the so-called coordination meetings [協調會議] was screened, to the surprise of all the defendants present in the courtroom. The video was made by someone present at the meeting using his mobile phone. As the report drolly notes: “the camera was filming underneath a table, showing the legs of some participants”.
Secondly, there is an account of what BennyTai said at this meeting concerning the democrats’ plan to win at majority in the legislative council elections and to realize laam chaau. The prosecution is intent on proving that a consensus was reached between all people willing to take part in the primaries, a consensus that accepted the necessity of vetoing the budget, causing the chief executive to dissolve LegCo and resign, and even to cause the Central Government to declare a state of emergency for Hong Kong.
The third point concerns the legality of the primary elections. According to the prosecution, Tai — a professor of law, after all — insisted that the primaries were legal (not surprising, considering that he had done a similar thing in 2016 with his ThunderGo plan [雷動計劃]). Needless to say, pro-Beijing forces were of the view that the primaries “might” be unlawful because a democratic majority in the legislative council was simply unthinkable.
Fourthly, the prosecution referred to “three main documents” that showed a determination to go ahead with the primary elections and the existence of a consensus on laam chaau. Two such documents were mentioned, the primary elections nomination form, and another declaration drafted by three democrats called “Signed in Ink without Regret, Resolute in Resistance”. This second document contained a promise to veto the budget in an attempt to force the government to respond to the Five Demands.
Finally, there was some discussion of the role of 吳政亨 Gordon Ng Ching-hang. He is described as a supporter of Benny Tai and helped out in the organization of the 2016 ThunderGo plan.
● 開案陳詞 hoi1 [ng]on3 chahn4 chih4 = opening submission | ● 一系列 yat1 hahi6 liht6 = a series | ● 協調會議 hip3 tiuh4 wuih6 yih5 = (?) a coordination meeting or a meeting about coordination | ● 並且bihng6 che2 = and; besides; moreover; furthermore; in addition | ● 播 bo3 = to broadcast | ● 被告欄 beih6 gou3 laahn4 = (?) the defendants dock | ● 發言 faat3 yihn4 = to make a statement or speech | ● 搖 yiuh4 = to shake; to wave; to rock | ● 畫質起格 waahk6 jat1 hei2 gaak3 = ? | ● 與會者 yuh5 wui62 je2 = a conference participant | ● 間唔中 gaan31 mh4 jung1 = occasionally but not often | ● 交代 gaau1 doih6 = to tell | ● 出席 cheut1 jihk6 = to attend; to be present
47 democrats who are said to have organized and participated in a primary election have been accused of the crime of conspiring to subvert state power. Sixteen people have pleaded not guilty. The trial entered its second day.
The prosecution continued to read out its opening submission. [In it], it was mentioned that in 2020, from February to July, Benny Tai Yiu-ming and Au Nok-hin conducted a series of coordination meetings [協調會議]. In addition, footage from one of the meetings was shown in the court, which caused defendants to exclaim in amazement [傳出「嘩」一聲] from the dock. The footage showed Benny Tai giving a speech. The footage was shaky and ? [畫質起格]. Most of the time, the camera was filming underneath a table, showing the legs of some participants. Only now and then would Benny Tai’s image [appear] on camera.
In court it the identity of the person who did the filming was reported. The prosecution said that on the day [when the film was taken], it was the second coordination meeting of the West New Territories, attended by Sam Cheung Ho-sum, Lucifer Ng Kin-wai, Ray Tam Hoi-pong and Henry Wong Pak-yu. Andrew Wan Siu-kin’s representative attended the meeting. There were also other people there.
● 超區 chiu1 keui1 = “super seats” constituencies| ● 選區 syun2 keui1 = an electoral district | ● 共識guhng6 sik1 = a consensus | ● 無差別 mouh4 chaa1 biht6 = literally, “without difference” | ● 否決 fau2 kyut3 = to veto | ● 財政預算案 choih4 jing3 yuh6 syun3 [ng]on3 = financial budget | ● 預計 yuh6 gai3 = to anticipate; to expect | ● 觸發 juk1 faat3 = to trigger | ● 過半 gwo3 bun3 = more than half; over half | ● 議席 yih5 jihk6 = a seat in the legislative council | ● 司法程序 si1 faat3 chihng4 jeuih6 = judicial procedure | ● 撥款 buht6 fun2 = to allocate money | ● 停擺 tihng4 baai2 = to come to a standstill | ● 緊急 gan2 gap1 = urgent; emergency | ● 拘押 keui1 ngaat3 = to detain | ● 領袖 lihng5 jauh6 = a leader | ● 引發yan2 faat3 = to trigger; to spark off; to arouse | ● 血腥鎮壓 hyut3 seng1 (?) jan3 aat3 = bloody suppression
At the meeting, Benny Tai mentioned that, apart from the West New Territories and the super constituencies, there was already a consensus with other electoral districts, [a consensus which included] the vetoing of the financial budget regardless of what it contained, and withdrawal from the election if they lost in the primaries. The prosecution also said that Benny Tai saw 35+ as a means to realize laam chaau (“burning together” or “mutual destruction”) and quoted from [Tai’s] article — published in Apple Daily in 2020 — explaining the “Ten Steps to True Laam Chaau”. [The prosecutor] said that at that time Benny Tai expected that the government would disqualify [members of] the democratic parties on a broad scale, triggering even more people to come out and vote. Eventually, this would enable the democratic parties to get more than half the seats in the legislative council — that is, 35+. Because it would take time for the govern to strip councillors of their qualifications by means of judicial procedure, democrats would still be the leading factor in the legislative council, vetoing all applications for funding allocations as well as budgets. This would force the chief executive to dissolve the legislative council and to resign; it would also bring the government to a standstill. The Central Government [of the People’s Republic of China] would declare a state of emergency for Hong Kong, and would directly enact a national security law for Hong Kong. Large numbers of democratic party leaders would be detained, triggering intense clashes in the streets as well as a bloody crackdown. In the end, this would cause Western countries to impose sanctions on the Chinese Communist Party.
● 生效 sāng haauh6 = to take effect; to come into effect | ● 如常 yuh4 seuhng4 = be as usual | ● 中聯辦 jung1 luyhn6 baahn6 = Liaison Office of the Central People’s Government | ● 譴責 hin2 jaak3 = to condemn; to denounce | ● 協議 hip3 yih5 = ① to negotiate ② an agreement | ● 頂上 ding2 seuhng6 = ? cf. 頂 ding2 = to substitute; to replace | ● 決心 kyut3 sam1 = ① be determined ② determination | ● 提名表格 taih4 mihng4 biu2 gaak3 = a nomination form | ● 簽 chim1 = to sign | ● 聲明 sing1 mihng4 = ① to declare ② a declaration | ● 主導 jyu2 douh6 = ① leading ② leading factor | ● 遵守 jeun1 sau2 = to comply with; to observe | ● 草擬 chou2 yih5 = to draft | ● 共同網領 guhng6 tuhng4 mohng5 lihng5 = (?) common programme
The prosecution said that, after the National Security Law came into effect, Benny Tai still believed that the primary elections were legal and should go ahead as planned [如常]. Even if the Liaison Office of the Central People’s Government later publicly condemned the primary elections as contravening the National Security Law, those people taking part in the [primary] elections would still [act] according to the 35+ agreement, [with] winners [of the primary elections] registering for the legislative council elections and the losers not taking part in them — or replacing candidates who were disqualified [as per] Plan B.
The prosecution mentioned that there were three key documents proving that they were determined to promote the primary elections. One of these is the primary elections nomination form. All those involved in the case who took part in the primary elections had signed [the form]. On the form [裏面] there is a declaration that states: “I promise to uphold and to recognize ‘the consensus’ led [主導] by Benny Tai and Au Nok-hin [reached] at the coordination meetings”. The prosecution said that this “consensus” was meant to ensure [要確保] that the forty-seven defendants upheld and abided by the Common Programme drafted by Benny Tai.
Furthermore, the candidates from East Kowloon [九東] and the West New Territories signed an additional Common Programme, promising to veto the budget, regardless of what was in it [無差別] and to force the government to respond to the Five Demands. Drafted by Fergus Leung Fong-wai, Sam Cheung Ho-sum and Owen Chow Ka-shing . . .
● 聯署 lyuhn4 chyuh5 = to sign jointly | ● 證明 jing3 mihng4 = to prove | ● 雷動計劃 leuih4 duhng6 gai3 waahk6 = ThunderGo, a plan proposed by Benny Tai in 2016 to secure half the seats in LegCo for councillors who did not belong to the pro-Beijing faction (lit. “thunder plan”) | ● 發起 faat3 hei2 = to initiate; to start; to launch | ● 約束力 yeuk3 chuk1 lihk6 = binding force | ● 骨幹 gwat1 gon3 = backbone; mainstay; core
. . . [this], the “Signed in Ink without Regret[, Resolute in Resistance]” declaration [「墨落無悔，堅定抗爭| 抗爭派立場聲明書」], was jointly signed by thirty-three of the defendants. The prosecution then said that this proves that the people who signed this declaration [呢一樣嘢] “showed no concern for the legal consequences” for the sake of achieving [their] objectives. The prosecution also mentioned a number of the defendants one by one, and the roles they played in the primary elections. One [defendant] mentioned was Gordon Ng Ching-hang, a supporter of Benny Tai. Earlier, back in 2016, he helped out with the ThunderGo [plan]. The prosecution said that, at the time when the crime [that is the subject of this trial] took place, Gordon Ng was active, using the pen-name “Lee Pak-lou”; it also said that police found a document on Gordon Ng’s computer written in June 2020 showing that he had a hand [有份] in designing the plan for the primary elections with Benny Tai. This document also mentioned the “Three Things to Vote for and Three Things Not to Vote for” petition campaign initiated by Ng, that made the primary elections binding and that was the backbone in making the primary elections a success. The trial will continue on Wednesday [8 February]. The prosecution will continue to read its opening submission.
But the one that touched my heart most, for in him I recognized myself forty years ago, was the little one who couldn’t quite keep up, and could not quite manage or do what the others did. He was the youngest and smallest but he was a much pluckier and gamer little boy than I had been when I occupied his humble position. He was a round-faced, bullet-headed little chap who always sat in the middle of the driving-seat of the car, leaning forward with his hands on his knees, gazing intently at the road ahead and singing an endless little crooning song to himself. He was far away in the private world that little boys inhabit and when you spoke to him you had to recall him from a great way off. I remembered, too, those jolts backward from my distant kingdom into the real world. Directly he had answered your question his little spirit fled and was off again on its wings.
● 閣下 gok3 haah6 = Your/His/Her Honour/Grace/Eminence, etc. | ● 代理人 doih6 léih5 yàhn4 = an agent | ● 折騰 jit3 tàhng4 = torment | ● 判刑 pun3 yìhng4 = to sentence | ● 懲罰 chìhng4 faht6 = to punish | ● 捍衛 hóhn5 waih6 = to safeguard; to protect
Your Worship, we know as a matter of fact that we are no foreign agent, and nothing has emerged in this year long ordeal that proves otherwise. To sentence us in such circumstances is about punishing people for defending the truth.
● 虛假 hēui1 gáa2 = false; untrue | ● 公民社會 gūng1 màhn4 séh5 wúi6*2 = civil society | ● 邪惡 chèh4 ok3 = evil | ● 外國勢力 ngoih6 gwok3 sai3 lihk6 = a foreign force or influence | ● 移植 yìh4 jihk6 = to transplant | ● 噤聲 gam3 sīng1 = to keep silent
The truth is that national security is being used as a hollow pretext to wage an all out war on civil society. The truth is that our movement for human rights and democracy is home grown and not some sinister foreign implant. The truth is that people here have a voice of their own that will not be silenced.
● 當權者 dōng1 kyùhn4 jé2 = those in power | ● 代價 doih6 gaa3 = price (as in “to pay the price”) | ● 守護 sáu2 wuh6 = to guard | ● 天安門大屠殺 tīn1 ōn1 mùhn4 daaih6 tòuh4 saat3 = the Tian’anmen Massacre (4 June 1989) | ● 囚禁 chauh4 gam3 = to imprison | ● 騷擾 sōu1 yíu2 = to harass | ● 羞辱 sāu1 yuhk6 = ① humiliation ② to humiliate
The Alliance is no stranger to the cost of speaking truth to power. We should know as we have been guarding the truth of the Tiananmen Massacre for over 30 years and have campaigned for many of those jailed and harassed and humiliated for telling that truth. We have long been prepared to pay the price.
● 貶低 bín2 dāi1 = to devalue | ● 屈膝 wāt1 sāt1 = to bend one’s knees; to go down on one’s knees | ● 出賣 chēut1 maaih6 = to sell out; to betray | ● 背棄 bui3 hei3 = to turn one’s back on; to abandon
With the notices and the degrading designation as foreign agent, the government was effectively saying to us, bend your knees, betray your friends, betray your cause, accept the state’s absolute authority to know all and decide all, and you shall have peace.
● 不公義 bāt1 gūng1 yih6 = unjust | ● 放棄 fong3 hei3 = to abandon | ● 自主 jih6 jyú2 = be one’s own master | ● 認同 yihng6 tùhng4 = to approve | ● 論述 leuhn6 seuht6 = to expound | ● 潛在 chìhm4 joih6 = potential | ● 罪犯 jeuih6 faahn6 = an offender; a criminal
What we are saying with our action is simply one word: NEVER. An unjust peace is no peace at all. Never will we surrender our independence from the state. Never will we help delegitimise our own movement by endorsing the government’s false narrative. Never will we treat ourselves and our friends as potential criminals just because the government says we are.
● 對抗 deui3 kong3 = to oppose | ● 尊嚴 jyūn1 yìhm4 = dignity | ● 侮辱 móuh5 yuhk6 = to insult; to affront| ● 保密 bóu2 maht6 = to keep secret | ● 瘋狂 fūng1 kòhng4 = 1. crazy 2. frenzied | ● 打仗 dáa2 jeung3 = to go to war | ● 危在旦夕 ngàih4 joih6 daan3 jihk6 = be in imminent danger; be in peril
Instead we will continue doing what we have always done, that is to fight falsehood with truth, indignity with dignity, secrecy with openness, madness with reason, division with solidarity. We will fight these injustices wherever we must, be it on the streets, in the courtroom, or from a prison cell. This battle including what we have done in this case, is a battle we have to fight, here in this city we call home. For our freedom to be ourselves is at stake. For the future of our city – and even of the wider world — is at stake.
● 聆訊 lìhng4 seun3 = an investigation; a hearing (for a trial) | ● 盛大聚會 sihng6 daaih6 jeuih6 wúi6*2= a grand get-together | ● 願望 yuhn6 mohng6 = a desire | ● 擁護 yúng2 wuh6 = to support; to uphold | ● 拒之門外 kéuih5 jī1 mùhn4 ngoih6 = refuse sb. entry | ● 威脅 wāi1 hip3 = to threaten
Your worship, today’s hearing comes at an ironic time. While false people’s representatives are having their grand gatherings in Beijing, busy endorsing one man’s wishes as that of the nation’s, genuine voices of the people are being denied that recognition in this courtroom. When the nation’s interests [are] defined by one party, or indeed, one person, so called “national security” would inevitably become a threat to the people’s right and security, nationally and even globally, as demonstrated by Tian’anmen, by Xinjiang, by Ukraine, and indeed Hong Kong.
● 虛構 hēui1 kau3 = to make up; to fabricate | ● 問責 mahn6 jaak3 = to call to account | ● 猛獸 máahng5 sau3 = a predator; a fierce beast
Compared with those imagined agent of unidentifiable foreign entities, surely the concrete but unaccountable state power is the more dangerous beast. The government always emphasises the priority of one country two system, but that doesn’t mean as citizens of this country, we [do not?] bear the primary responsibility to rein in this beast that threatens the world. Which is why we did what we did, and why we can never give up.
I turn to her on the corner and say: Think how hard working I’ll be being this weekend. Less than a minute later, a woman walking down the middle of the street says to her partner: We wouldn’t have known what we know now if we hadn’t gone and seen it for ourselves. No stopping to think, easy as heart-beat or breath.
In this second video from 法庭線 The Witness, we get some more detail on the opening day of the trial. Almost in passing, the reporter mentions in the opening minute that the press area has been cordoned off with orange tape; the implication seems to be that the media were being discouraged from covering court proceedings in the usual way.
The first day also started with a brief protest staged by the 社會民主連線 League of Social Democrats. The message on the banner is in three lines: 1. 初選無罪 | 打壓可恥 = The Primary Elections are No Crime | The Repression is Shameful 2. 民意代表代表民意何罪 = What Crime Is There in Representatives of the People Representing the Will of the People? and 3. 立即釋放所有政治犯 = Release All Political Prisoners at Once. In typical Chinese fashion, the protestors were told to go back to the designated protest area if they wished to continue.
You’ll also find a bit more detail on the organization of the primary elections, as well as the important term 攬炒 laam chaau, literally “to embrace & to fry”. This term is often translated as “to burn together” or “mutual destruction”, possibly referring to the fact that if a democratic majority gained control of the legislative council, it could veto the budget and so cause the council’s dissolution. This may be why 炒 chaau is used, since it can also mean “to lose one’s job” in certain idioms.
The Cantonese in the video is very clear and not too fast. You can find the video here.
● 開審 hoi1 sam2 = to hold a court hearing | ● 被鋪 beih6 pou1 = bedding | ● 睡袋 seuih6 doi6*2 = a sleeping bag | ● 席地 jihk6 deih6 = to sit or lie on the ground | ● 巡邏 cheuhn4 loh4 = to patrol | ● 戒備 gaai3 beih6 = to be on the alert | ● 橙帶 chaang2 daai3 = roughly, “orange cord/tape” | ● 圍起 waih4 hei2 = roughly, “to enclose” | ● 囚車 chauh4 che1 = a prison van | ● 押送 aat3 sung3 = to escort | ● 陸續 luhk6 juhk6 = in succession | ● 同案 tuhng4 ngon3 = the same case | ● 旁聽 pohng4 teng1 = to act as an observer; to sit in (on a class)
47 democrats who are said to have organized and participated in a primary election have been accused of the crime of conspiring to subvert state power. Sixteen people have pleaded not guilty. The trial began on Monday. At 7 a.m. this morning, over a hundred people lined up outside the court, some of them sleeping on the ground [using] bedding and sleeping bags they had brought with them. Approximately 100 police were outside the West Kowloon Magistrates’ Courts, patrolling [the premises] and on the alert. The press area was closed off with orange tape. Gordon Ng Ching-hang, Gwyneth Ho Kwai-lan, Lam Cheuk-ting, [“Long Hair”] Leung Kwok-hung, Winnie Yu Wai-ming and Owen Chow Ka-shing, who are currently in detention, were sent to the court in a prison van. The other ten defendants who are out on bail — Lee Yue-shun, Lawrence Lau Wai-chung, Michael Pang Cheuk-kei, Raymond Chan Chi-chuen, Sze Tak-loy, Cheng Tat-hung, Ricky Or Yiu-lam, Clarisse Yeung Suet-ying, Kalvin Ho Kai-ming and Helena Wong Pik-wan arrived at the court at around 9.30 a.m. Hendrick Lui Chi-hang, another defendant who has pleaded guilty, also came to the court to observe proceedings.
● 示威 sih6 wai1 = to hold a demonstration | ● 包圍 baau1 waih4 = to surround | ● 違反 waih4 faan2 = to violate; to contravene | ● 口罩令 hau2 jaau3 lihng6 = (?) a regulation for the wearing of face masks | ● 聽取 teng1 cheui2 = to listen to | ● 答辯 daap3 bihn6 = to answer a charge; to respond to a plea | ● 質疑 jat1 yih4 = to call into question | ● 開案陳詞 hoi1 [ng]on3 chahn4 chihn4 = opening submission/arguments | ● 暴政 bouh6 jing3 = despotism | ● 刪除 saan1 cheuih4 = to cut out; to delete | ● 威脅 wai1 hip3 = to threaten; to intimidate | ● 字眼 jih6 ngaahn5 = wording | ● 單 daan1 = the classifier or measure word used with 案 (a legal case)
Members of the League of Social Democrats held a demonstration outside the court before the trial started. For a time, they were surrounded by police, who asked them to return to the [designated] demonstration zone. One of the [protestors] was taken away by police for having violated the face-mask regulation. In the case, at the outset, there were eighteen people who pleaded not guilty. This morning when the court trial began, their pleas were heard. Ng Kin-wai and Mike Lam King-nan both changed their pleas to guilty. When Ng Kin-wai gave his plea, he said: “Your Honour, I was not successful in subverting state power. I plead guilty. I admit the charge.” One by one, the other sixteen defendants gave their plea of not guilty. One of them, Leung Kwok-hung, declared: “Resisting despotism is not a crime. There is no case to answer.” Before she gave her plea, Gwyneth Ho asked a question, [because] the newly revised opening submission of the prosecution had deleted the wording “to threaten to use violence”, and yet when the clerk of courts read out the charge, the wording was unchanged. Eventually, she said that she respected the court and added: “I don’t want to waste any more time. I plead not guilty.” After that, the prosecution read out the opening submission. [It] stated that the plan to conspire in the case [involved] the group of defendants’ using unlawful means . . .
● 干擾 gon1 yiu2 = to disturb | ● 履行 leih5 hahng4 = to carry out | ● 職能 jik1 nahng4 = function (of an organization) | 否決fau2 kyut3 = to veto | ● 財政預算 choih4 jing3 yuh6 syun3 [ng]on3 = financial budget | ● 開支 hoi1 ji1 = expenses | ● 迫使 bik1 sai2 = to force | ● 解散 gaai2 saan3 = to dissolve | ● 導致 douh6 ji3 = to lead to; to trigger | ● 辭職 chih4 jik1 = to resign | ● 透露 tau3 louh6 = to reveal | ● 傳召 chyuhn4 jiuh6 = to summon | ● 共犯證人 guhng6 faahn6 jing3 yahn4 = accomplice witness | ● 作供 jok3 gung1 = to testify | ● 制定 jai3 dihng6 = to formulate | ● 框架 kwaang1 gaa32 = a frame; a framework | ● 商討 seung1 tou2 = to discuss | ● 攬炒 laam2 chaau2 = lit. “to embrace & fry”; often translated as “mutual destruction” | ● 核心 haht6 sam1 = nucleus; core | ● 多數 do1 sou3 = the majority | ● 控制權 hung3 jai3 kyuhn4 = roughly, “the right to control” | ● 刊登 hon1 (or hon1*2) dang1 = to publish
. . . to disturb the various organs of the HKSAR government and the legal execution of its functions by means of an indiscriminate [無差別] vetoing of financial budgets or public expenditure. [This would] force the government to dissolve the legislative council and ultimately lead to the chief executive’s resignation. The objective of the entire plan was “to subvert state power”. The prosecution revealed that, some time later, they would summon four defendants involved in this case [同案被告] — Au Nok-hin, Andrew Chiu Ka-yin, Ben Chung Kam-lun and Mike Lam King-nan — would give evidence as accomplice witnesses. The prosecution said that the organizers of the primary elections were the five defendants Benny Tai, Au Nok-hin, Andrew Chiu Ka-yin, Ben Chung Kam-lun and Gordon Ng, and took responsibility for formulating the framework of the primary elections and for discussing details with the various individuals taking part in the primaries. Of these [people], Benny Tai wanted to realize his plan of laam chaau (“burning together” or “mutual destruction”). The core [aspect] of the primary elections was to get majority control of the legislative council. The prosecution said that in December 2019, Benny Tai had published an essay in Apple Daily which mentioned the primary elections for the first time and explained how winning a majority in the legislative council would come at the price of having the council dissolved.
● 記者會 gei3 je2 wui6*2 = a press conference | ● 策略 chaak3 leuhk6 = tactics | ● 議席 yih5 jihk6 = a seat in the legislative council | ● 抗衡 kong3 hahng4 = to contend with | ● 發起 faat3 hei2 = to initiate; to launch | ● 呼籲 fu1 yuh6 = to call on (to sb. to do sth.); to appeal (to sb. to do sth.) | ● 遵守 jeun1 sau2 = to observe; to comply with | ● 實踐 saht6 chihn5 = to put into practice | ● 約束 yeuk3 chuk1 = to restrain
They would force the government to agree to their demands. In March 2020, together with Au Nok-hin, he held a press conference to introduce the plan for primary elections as well as [its] tactics. He mentioned that if a majority of seats were obtained in the legislative council, this could become “a weapon of great destructive power”, [allowing democrats] to contend with the Chinese Communist Party and the government. The prosecution said that afterwards Benny Tai continued to write essays [for] Apple Daily, explaining “the ten steps to true laam chaau”, explaining how laam chaau would be realized through the primary elections, including vetoing the financial budget, regardless of what it contained [無差別]. Gordon Ng once launched a campaign called “Three Things to Vote for and Three Things Not to Vote for”, calling on voters [選民] to vote only for candidates who were taking part in the primary elections and who had promised to comply with the outcome. As for the remaining forty-two defendants, people who ran in the primary elections, the prosecution said that they had publicly promised to do all they could to realize the objectives of the plan for primary elections and to be bound by the elections’ outcome. Apart from the twenty-seven defendants who were victorious in the primary elections [and who], after the implementation of the National Security Law, put their names down to take part in legislative council elections . . .
● 頂上 ding2 seuhng6 = ? cf. 頂 ding2 = to substitute; to replace | ● 聯合 lyuhn6 hahp6 = joint | ● 續審 juhk6 sam2 = roughly, “(of a trial) to continue)”
. . . the fifteen defendants who lost in the primaries also promised not to run in the [legislative council] elections or agreed, if the need arose, to act as Plan B substitutes (?) to realize their conspiracy. The prosecution also said that thirty-three of the defendants had signed the joint declaration “Signed in Ink without Regret, Resolute in Resistance: Manifesto of the Resistance Faction’s Standpoint”, [in which] they promised to comply with the plan for primary elections in order to force the government to respond to the Five Demands. The trial with continue on Tuesday [7 February], [when] the prosecution will go on with the reading of their opening submission.
InmediaHK reported that when the defendants entered the court at around 10 a.m., someone called out 「毛哥！」 (“Brother Hair!”) to “Long Hair” 梁國雄 Leung Gwok-hung. People were then warned about making noise. It was also reported that 吳政亨 Gordon Ng Ching-hang appeared with his arm in a sling, having been injured earlier in a sporting accident [早前因做運動意外受傷]. Someone in the gallery commented aloud that he looked quite handsome in his Western suit [幾靚仔]. It was also noted that 袁嘉蔚 Tiffany Yuen had her hair cut in the “basin cut” style [「冬菇頭」].
There was some legal discussion about the fact that two of the defendants had changed their pleas. Prosecuting lawyer 萬德豪 Jonathan Man Tak-ho first pointed out that 伍健偉 Lucifer Ng Kin-wai and 林景楠 Mike Lam King-nan would have to enter their pleas again. The judge 陳慶偉 Andrew Chan Hing-wai then wanted all the people who had pleaded not guilty to re-enter their pleas. Jonathan Man said that he thought this wasn’t necessary, but the judge couldn’t see why there was no necessity for some of the defendants not to plea. The charges were duly read out by the clerk of courts, and all the defendants who had pleaded not guilty entered their pleas again.
Ng pleaded in the following memorable manner:
「法官閣下，我顛覆極權國家政權未成功，我承認控罪 」 Your Honour, I was not successful in subverting state power. I plead guilty. I admit the charge.
InmediaHK also gave details about how other defendants restated their not-guilty plea. 鄒家成 Owen Chau spoke his plea in an emphatic, staccato way: 「不！認！罪！」 (Not! — Guilt-! — Ty!). “Long Hair” Leung Kwok-hung denied that there was a case to answer: ：「無罪可認，爭取普選無罪，對抗暴政無罪。 (“There is no case to answer. Fighting for general elections is not a crime. Resisting despotism is not a crime.”). There was some laughter in the gallery upon hearing this.
Before she entered her plea, 何桂藍 Gwyneth Ho asked a question about the wording of the charge. This involved the deletion in a revised version of the opening submission of the words 「威脅使用武力」 (“to threaten to use force”). Ho asked the three judges:
「你 charge 都唔清楚叫人 plea，點 plea 啊大佬」 | 「唔好意思我有個問題，因為律政司好鍾意做 deadline fighter，我今朝先攞到最新嘅 opening」| 「我係認緊邊條？」|「咁你仲告唔告我哋威脅使用武力㗎而家？」| 「我都好尊重法庭」| 「我唔明點解問人答辯嗰日條 charge 都唔清唔楚，總之我 not guilty 嘅，唔駛嘥時間，多謝」 What am I to do, Boss [大佬]? You want us to enter our pleas when the charge isn’t clear. | Excuse me. I have a question. Because the Depart of Justice likes to be a deadline fighter, I only received the new opening [that is, opening submission] this morning. | Which [version] am I giving my plea to? | Are you charging us with the threat to use force now? | I respect the court | I don’t understand why when, on the day people are being asked to plea, the charge is not clear. But in any case, I am not guilty. There’s no need to waste time. Thank you. (Note: Ho’s remarks are reported in different parts of the article, but I have done my best to reconstruct a plausible order.)
The judge asked Ho’s legal representative to explain the situation to her. Trevor Beel said that his client was confused because the criminal charge [控罪] referred to both force and other methods [同時提及武力及其他非法手段], while the charge [指控] in the prosecution’s opening submission had been amended to read “unlawful methods other than force” [武力以外的非法手段]. He said he would explain this to Ho. After her plea, judge Andrew Chan asked Ho not to speak so loudly. She replied by saying that she was using her「正常講嘢聲量」 (normal speaking volume). A second judge, 李運騰 Alex Lee Wan-tang, reminded her that she should communicate through her legal representative rather than directly address the judges. The InmediaHK report also suggested that Ho and a correctional officer jostled one another at this point [此時何桂藍與身旁懲教人員發生推撞].
One of the judges, 陳慶偉 Andrew Chan, was also disturbed by talk among the defendants while the prosecution was speaking, and warned them that they would have to sit “behind the doors of the prisoners’ room for the rest of the trial” [坐在囚室門後] if they continued to disturb court proceedings.
Then, there was some discussion of the use of computers by the defendants and arrangements for expert witnesses. This issue is clearly a fraught one, as Gwyneth Ho’s questions indicate, especially when emails notifying defendants of late changes arrive only at the last minute. InmediaHK reported this as follows:
法官亦應辯方申請，批准被告審訊期間使用電腦閱讀文件及做筆記，但禁止他們以電腦來與外界溝通。他又表示，知道因安全原因，懲教或不會准許被告帶電腦回到監房，但法庭不會干預懲教的決定，他亦無權如此做，籲各被告自行考慮。 The judges also responded to an application from the defence to allow defendants to make use of computers during the trial to read documents and to make notes. However, they were forbidden to use the devices to communicate with the outside world. The judges also noted that they were aware that, owing to safety concerns, Correctional Services would probably not allow defendants to take computers back to their prison cells. However, they would not interfere with any decisions made by Correctional Services, nor had they any power to do so. They called on the various defendants to consider what to do.
It is perhaps the point about defendants not being able to access computers from their cells that prompted one person to exclaim audibly from the defendants dock:
「so simple, sometimes naive」
This prompted another warning from judge Andrew Chan about interrupting court proceedings.
There was an adjournment at around 11.20 a.m. The judges said that Lucifer Ng and Mike Lam could leave the court (and go back into detention) but Ng wanted to stay on. As the court adjourned, 曾健成 Bull Tsang Kin-shing called out: 「大家頂住啊，阿毛！阿廷！」 (Hang in there everyone! Ah Mou [that is, Leung Kwok-hung]! Ah Ting [that is, Lam Cheuk-ting]!
You can refer to the original report in Chinese here.
I stand beneath the gathering thunderstorm — an understorm — and wonder on my own intrinsic lightning. There is an invisible gradual heightening like a tingle through the veins; the blood pumps richly out and thinly in again, again; as if somewhere for my part a decisive gale brewed. There are dark clouds too in my interior counter-weather. No doubt stars are concealed behind their dense-opaque cover, but now I don’t see them, whatever their glow might mean. Vaguely, I feel that first flash preparing to discharge and here exactly is the long-drawn-out apprehension: just where o where this time will the jagged spark strike home?
Two trials of immense historical significance are currently taking place in Hong Kong, one dealing with forty-seven democrats who took part in an unofficial primary election in 11-12 July 2020, and one involving the editors of 立場新聞 Stand News, who have been accused of publishing “seditious” material on their on-line newspaper. In a very real sense, democracy and freedom of speech are on trial here, and what the gruelling court process will eventually reveal to us is exactly what lengths the Chinese will go to criminalize all aspects of political expression incompatible with dictatorship.
A YouTube channel called 法庭線 The Witness has been uploading clear, concise reports in Cantonese on both trials, and I have found them useful for making sense of what is going on. If you rely on the English-language media for your information, you may find that my rough translations of this material complement what appears on the Hong Kong Free Presswebsite and elsewhere. If you do read Chinese, you may also find the detailed reports on the 獨立媒體 Inmedia website of great interest, especially with the verbatim transcriptions of various comments made by judges, legal representatives and the defendants. To date, to my surprise, there have been many moments of laughter during the trial of the forty-seven democrats, and some intriguing quibbles over the translation of certain words and phrases offered by the official legal interpreter.
You can watch the video here (subtitles in Standard Written Chinese only).
● 其後 keih4 hauh6 = later | ● 受審 sauh6 sam2 = to stand trial; to be tried; to be on trial | ● 涉及 sip3 kahp6 = to involve; to relate to | ● 審訊 sam2 seun3 = to interrogate; to try | ● 罪成 jeuih6 sihng4 = (?) to establish a person’s guilt | ● 刑罰 yihng4 faht6 = a penalty; a punishment | ● 參與 cham1 yuh5 = to participate in; to have a hand in | ● 首要分子 sau2 yiu3 fan1 ji2 = major culprit; ringleader | ● 判囚 pun3 chauh4 = (?) to be sentenced to prison | ● 禁閉刑罰 gam3 baih6 yihng4 faht6 = (?) “confinement penalty” | ● 陪審團 puih4 sam2 tyuhn4 = jury | ● 指定 ji2 dihng6 = to designate | ● 審理 sam2 leih5 = to try; to hear | ● 預計 yuh6 gai3 = to anticipate; to predict| ● 審期 sam2 keih4 = roughly, “the trial period” | ● 呈堂chihng4 tohng4 = ? cf. 呈堂證供 = sworn evidence | ● 證物 jing3 maht6 = evidence | ● 論壇 leuhn6 taahn4 = forum | ● 競選 gihng6 syun2 = to enter into an election contest; to campaign for (office); to run for| ● 宣傳片syun1 chyuhn4 pin3*2 = roughly, “publicity/promotional video”| ● 透露 tau3 lauh6 = to divulge; to leak; to disclose; to reveal
2020 Democrats’ Primary Elections | 47 Democratic Figures | Later Accused of the Crime of Conspiring to Subvert State Power
Caption: The 16 Defendants who Pleaded Not Guilty
The sixteen defendants who pleaded not guilty are about to stand trial. This will be the first trial related to the crime of conspiring to subvert state power. According to the National Security Law, once guilt is established [一旦罪成], there are three levels of punishment depending on the degree of involvement [參與程度].
Caption: [For] a major culprit or ringleader: more than 10 years or up to a lifetime’s imprisonment | [For] an active participant: 3 to 10 years imprisonment | [For] other participants: less than 3 years imprisonment or confinement [禁閉刑罰]
In the most serious [cases], one can be sentenced to more than 10 years or up to a lifetime’s imprisonment. There is no jury for this trial. It will be heard by three high court judges designated by the National Security Law: Andrew Chan Hing-wai, Johnny Chan Jong-herng and Alex Lee Wan-tang. The trial is expected to last for approximately 90 days. The prosecution earlier indicated that video footage of the primary election forums and promotional videos from individuals contesting the election will be used as evidence. They also revealed that three of the defendants who pleaded guilty will give evidence as accomplice witnesses.
● 判刑 pun3 yihng4 = to sentence | ● 被捕 beih6 bouh6 = be under arrest| ● 開審 hoi1 sam2 = to hold a court hearing | ● 歷時 lihk6 sih4 = to last (a period of time); to take (a period of time) | ● 拘捕 keui1 bouh6 = to arrest | ● 案件 [ng]on3 gin6*2 = a case | ● 獲准保釋 wohk6 jeun2 bou2 sik1 = roughly, “to secure approval to be bailed” | ● 警署 jing2 chyuh5 = police station | ● 落案 lohk6 [ng]on3 = to lay a charge against | ● 總裁判官 jung2 choih4 pun3 gun1 = chief magistrate | ● 律政司 leuht6 jing3 si1 = the Department of Justice | ● 隨即 cheuih4 jik1 = immediately; presently | ● 覆核 fuk1 haht6 = to check | ● 依例 yi1 laih6 = (?) in compliance with the rules | ● 收押 sau1 ngaat3 = to detain
As for the thirty-one defendants who have pleaded guilty, they will not be sentenced until after those who pleaded not guilty have been tried. For the forty-seven people in the case, it has been more that two years from the time of their arrest to the holding of the court hearing.
Caption: [Video] clips from various individuals’ Facebook pages
In January 2021, the National Security Department of the Hong Kong Police Force arrested fifty-five democrats. It is the case with the largest number of arrests since the implementation of the National Security Law. They were afterwards granted bail, but within less than two months, they were notified by the National Security Department that they were required to report earlier than expected to [their nearest] police station. After that, forty-seven people were charged, accused [起訴] of the crime of conspiring to subvert state power. After a marathon hearing for applications for bail lasting around forty hours [held] over four days, Chief Magistrate Victor So Wai-tak, a judge designated by the National Security Law, approved fifteen applications. The Department of Justice immediately asked for a review [提出覆核]. [In compliance with the rules] the magistrate had to keep everyone in detention.
● 撤銷 chit3 siu1 = to cancel; to revoke | ● 審視 sam2 sih6 = to examine | ● 獲批 wohk6 pai1 = (?) to be approved | ● 被指 beih6 ji2 = (?) to be accused of | ● 違反 waih4 faan2 = to violate; to infringe | ● 擔保 daam1 bou2 = to guarantee; to vouch for; to assure; to ensure
One day later, the Department of Justice cancel [its request for] a review of four of the people who applied for bail. The remaining eleven people were examined by the High Court designated judge Esther Toh Lye-ping. She approved bail for seven of them. Later, the defendants who remained in detention successfully applied for bail to the High Court.
Caption: Thirteen people are granted bail
Up until the trial began, of the forty-seven people, a total of thirteen of them have been on bail. Before they were granted bail, there were those who were detained for one day, and those who had been detained for 292 days. The other thirty-four people are still in detention. Of these, Winnie Yu Wai-ming and Owen Chow Ka-shing were granted bail for a time, but were later accused of violating their bail conditions. Their bail [擔保] was revoked. They have been in detention for nearly 500 days. The thirty-two other people, [including] Benny Tai Yiu-ming, Au Nok-hin and Andrew Chiu Ka-yin, have already been in detention for more than 700 days.