Hong Kong Jockey Club Strips Membership From Jailed Democrats

September 20, 2021
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The Hong Kong Jockey Club has revoked the memberships of three veteran pro-democracy figureheads convicted for political activity, including former Apple Daily media mogul Jimmy Lai and barrister, democracy activist and ex-legislator Martin Lee.

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The Hong Kong Jockey Club (HKJC) has revoked the memberships of three veteran pro-democracy figureheads convicted for political activity, including former Apple Daily media mogul Jimmy Lai and barrister, democracy activist and ex-legislator Martin Lee.

In a September 2 notice pictured in Chinese-language media, the HKJC said the memberships of 14 individuals had “ceased with immediate effect”, including Lai, Lee and fellow lawyer, activist and former legislator Albert Ho.

Signed by head of membership services Steven Tan, the notice did not justify the revocations or provide details other than the former members’ names in English and Chinese.

Online news portal The Stand News reported on Thursday that the HKJC had declined to comment on any aspect of individual decisions, citing privacy considerations.

Lai and Ho are serving jail terms of 20 months and 18 months, respectively, for unlawful assembly and incitement to unlawful assembly. National Security Law charges against Lai are also pending.

Lee, 82, was sentenced in April to 11 months in prison, suspended for two years, for participating in an unlawful assembly.

Lee is one of Hong Kong’s most prominent democracy advocates, dating to well before the transfer of Hong Kong’s sovereignty from the United Kingdom to China in 1997.

The prosecution and jail terms for the three men provoked condemnation from around the world, including from the British and US governments.

Details of the other 11 named individuals could not be immediately verified, although at least two of the names are identical to owners of horses that have competed at HKJC meetings in recent years.

The name of another member — Leung Wai Kwan — is identical to a former executive director of Hong Kong-listed Yi Hua Holdings who received a bankruptcy notice in May this year.

Until publication of the September 2 revocations, the HKJC had avoided politicisation as a result of Hong Kong’s social instability, driven by Beijing pressure on democrats and liberal influences in government and educational institutions.

However, with the US government taking the lead in sanctioning Hong Kong and Chinese officials over anti-democratic activity, the HKJC’s actions against high-profile political prisoners, together with its key revenue-raising role for the government, could expose its commingling deals and other international operations to greater foreign scrutiny.

The HKJC has been a standout gaming operator throughout the coronavirus pandemic, reporting record seasonal and annual turnover over the last financial year, despite retail disruption and lockouts of punters from race meetings at the Happy Valley and Sha Tin racecourses.

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