‘Sharpening my sword’: One of Hong Kong’s most-wanted can now practise law in Australia

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London: Ted Hui is one of South Australia’s newest lawyers. He may also be one of Australia’s most-convicted legal practitioners.

The Hong Konger fled to Australia via London in 2021. He was on the run from Beijing’s oppressive crackdown in the former British territory, which has now had most freedoms wiped out for those who enjoyed the benefits of the One Party, Two Systems rule that the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) promised in international law.

Former Hong Kong Legislator Ted Hui was admitted as a barrister and solicitor at South Australia’s Supreme Court.Credit: Ted Hui Chi Fung/Facebook

Sentenced in exile, Hui, the former legislator, would be thrown in jail should he return home while Beijing rules. Hong Kong police have put bounties in place for information leading to his arrest, as well for his fellow democracy campaigners – including Nathan Law, who sought political asylum in the UK.

Hui is adamant he will go home, and that when he does, Hong Kong will be free.

“It’s more than a goal: it’s a pledge that I made to myself that I would go home one day in freedom and I am still confident about it,” the 41-year-old said in an interview, after being admitted to the bar, meaning he can practise law.

Hui was one of the Hong Kong democracy movement’s most radical and high-profile members. In March 2020, during a parliamentary reading of the disputed National Anthem Bill, he threw rotten plant matter inside the chamber in protest.

In the past, Hui said, activists thought of other ways – more peaceful, less radical ways – to negotiate with Beijing such as protests and civil disobedience.

“But now I am determined, Hong Kongers are determined, that that is not going to work with the Chinese Communist Party. The only thing is to have it totally step down from power.

“The CCP must disappear from this world, from this world order – it should disappear. I believe that’s the only way Hong Kong will get freedom.”

He took an important step in that journey this week in South Australia’s Supreme Court, which admitted him as a barrister and solicitor.

“In the long term, I want to focus on human rights and also international human rights law, so that I can pursue my goal of having the Hong Kong regime, which abused human rights to pay a price.

“I’m equipping myself, by sharpening my sword – that’s what I call it.”

But Hui says while he gains the experience required to work in international law, there are practical ways he will continue helping Hong Kong with his new qualifications.

“Firstly, and most directly I can provide legal assistance to those who are seeking political asylum from Hong Kong.

“I’m well-positioned to do that – give that legal advice, help them draft the documents, – that’s something I can do right now. ”

He says Australia, particularly the government, can support Hong Kong by strengthening their statements when gross abuses of rights occur, such as developments in the ongoing cases against Apple News founder Jimmy Lai and fellow democracy activists.

“I really want the Australian government to have much stronger statements; it’s already very strong but it can be stronger,” he said.

Lai and six other pro-democracy campaigners had part of their convictions quashed by Hong Kong’s Court of Appeal this week but they remain in jail.

Four retired Australian judges – Robert French, Murray Gleeson, William Gummow and Patrick Keane – sit on Hong Kong’s highest court.

“They really shouldn’t be serving the Hong Kong top court any more: it’s window dressing, lending Australian values of democracy and freedom to a very already eroded system.”

He urged Prime Minister Anthony against joining the string of world leaders who have paid a visit to Beijing to meet Xi Jinping.

“It can’t be business as usual with China when all my colleagues and many, many Hong Kongers are locked up in prison for fighting for democracy.”

He said if Albanese did go, his first words to Xi should be about human rights and Hong Kong.

Unlike some of his fellow Hong Kong democracy campaigners, Hui does not have close ties with anyone back in Hong Kong meaning his distant relatives have, so far, not been subjected to the official harassment meted out to Law’s family – who were taken in for questioning in what campaigners slammed as a clear tactic of intimidation from Beijing.

Hui said his family have felt welcome in Australia, as well as safe from the CCP, since arriving in 2021.

“From the people, from the parliament, the government – I feel very welcome here, I’m privileged.”

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