Ex-council leader fined for breaching gathering ban

Eastern Court on Monday imposed a HK$10,000 fine on former district councillor Cheng Lai-king after she pleaded guilty to breaching a ban on public gatherings.

On August 7 last year, Cheng, the former chairwoman of Central and Western District Council, held a meeting with 10 others outside Sun Yat Sen Memorial Park Sports Centre over the government’s move to turn the site into a Covid testing centre.

Despite police warnings, Cheng and several other district councillors spoke to the media afterwards. The councillors were subsequently given HK$2,000 fines for breaching a ban on gatherings of more than two people which was in place at the time.

Four of them who refused to pay the fine later pleaded guilty in court, and Cheng did the same, just before her trial was about to start.

Her lawyer told the court that the meeting was held to address residents’ concerns about the testing centre and Cheng had reminded those taking part to keep their distance from each other.

In sentencing, magistrate Peony Wong said a fine was appropriate considering that Cheng was remorseful, that she had not acted for her own benefit, and that everyone at the meeting had been wearing masks.