Prosecutions and Payback
Lai uses laughter to downplay the risks he faces. But he is in the crosshairs more than ever.
He is currently being prosecuted alongside 14 other prominent pro-democracy activists for taking part in last year’s rallies, on charges that carry up to five years in jail.
He declined to discuss the case, for legal reasons, but said he was unrepentant about attending and supporting protests over the years.
“I’m a troublemaker. I came here with nothing, the freedom of this place has given me everything. Maybe it’s time I paid back for that freedom by fighting for it,” he said.
The newest threat is Beijing’s plan to impose a new national security law on the city, which would outlaw subversion, secession, terrorism and foreign influence.
Allegations of Lai colluding with foreigners went into overdrive in state media last year, when he had a meeting with US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Vice-President Mike Pence.
Lai described the proposed law as “a death knell for Hong Kong”.
“It will supersede or destroy our rule of law and destroy our international financial status,” he said.
He also fears for his journalists.
“Whatever we write, whatever we say can be subversion, can be sedition,” he said.