Social Justice, from Hong Kong to Rainham

I appreciate having the opportunity to come live in the UK from Hong Kong. It is a humbling privilege to play a part in the Liberal Democrats, as local champions in the Local Elections 2023. I am standing as the candidate for Rainham North with Stuart Bourne and Alan Collins, honestly advocating for social justice.

The campaign in Medway is determined and real. Canvassing and Focus delivery were steam-rolling a year ahead. I was a late-comer, busy moving from Gravesend and changing my profession into law. So, it was a pleasant surprise when the local party called me while I was on holiday and encouraged me to stand in a promising three-member ward. I grew fond of road works and potholes.

Truthfully, I do see my local campaigns as an extension of my pro-bono legal work in social justice. The power of persuasion, pressing public bodies and utility companies to act in resolving street works, is no less than advocating for my clients who are unfairly punished by Community Protection Notices or fighting for Child Arrangement Orders even as they are estranged by domestic violence.

Naturally, having specialised in Criminal Law defence, it is also fun and inspiring going through hundreds of pages of legislation and Codes of Practice on ‘Street Works’. Would you have known there are important differences in legal treatments to ‘Street Works’ and ‘Road Works’? Furthermore, the party has supported my efforts in the human rights campaign. This included crucial advocacy highlighting Beijing’s ethnic undermining towards Muslims in Xinjiang. Or the State Hands undermining free speech at UK Universities including silencing Chinese students who come to study here because they aspire to free and open societies like those who came before them and perished in 1989. It is appealing to have a professional team of Liberal Democrats working together for our local communities. Indeed, hopefully, it shall also translate into votes and local support on 4th May.

It is also, in no small part, the national policies championed by the Liberal Democrats that allowed me to participate in advocating for local communities here in the UK. I grew up in one of the strangest geopolitical transitions where colonial Hong Kong, a semi-democratic society, was transferred to the autocratic rule of Communist China. Back in 1990, following Tiananmen, Paddy Ashdown championed a policy in Parliament to allow Hongkongers to move to the UK. Compelled by Paddy’s determination, the Thatcher ministry implemented a scheme whereby 50,000 Hong Kong families were given a safe route to the UK. As a child dependant, my parents could have travelled to the UK at any time of their choosing, having been conferred full British Citizenship while remaining overseas. It was a very limited scheme. Between 1991 and 2019, Lib Dems MPs worked hard to expand the scheme. Alistair Carmichael is part of the cross-party advocacy which latterly implemented the British National (Overseas) visa scheme. True internationalists are also liberal, cross-party champions. Safe routes have always been possible as part of our national policy and Liberal Democrats keep governments honest and compassionate.

I am glad to be part of the Liberal Democrat team working passionately on both domestic social issues and national policies. It is an honour to come to the UK on a safe route championed by the Liberal Democrats and now safely participating in local democracy. We are more than a political party. More importantly, we empower each other; enjoying ourselves as social justice advocates dotted around our small island nation.

Here is a sample of Nicholas’ work from his Twitter feed:

* Nicholas Chan is a Liberal Democrat member training in Criminal Law. He is Vice-Chair of Liberal Democrat Friends of Hong Kong.

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This entry was posted in Op-eds.


  • Alan Collins Rosell 25th Apr '23 - 6:14pm

    Thank you for sharing your story, Nicholas. It’s a privilege to be standing alongside you.

  • Well if this doesn’t inspire us all to keep going until May 4, nothing will.

  • Chris Moore 26th Apr '23 - 9:08pm

    Great article. Thank you.

  • Peter Hirst 8th May '23 - 12:49pm

    Our results in the local elections show that people will respond if a Party campaigns on policies that offer them at least a fighting chance of creating a society that the other two Parties have long abandoned. They are crying out for a change to the confrontational politics that has allowed our present breed of politicians to emerge. It is important that we maintain our vision of the sort of country we want and the path to realise it.

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