Lester Shum

Lester Shum (Chinese: 岑敖暉; born 11 June 1993) is a Hong Kong social activist and politician. He was a leader of the 2014 pro-democracy protests in Hong Kong and served as deputy secretary-general of the Hong Kong Federation of Students (HKFS) from April 2014 to March 2015. He is a member of the Tsuen Wan District Council for Hoi Bun since 2019.[2]

Lester Shum
岑敖暉 Legco primary (cropped).png
Lester Shum in 2020
Member of the Tsuen Wan District Council
Assumed office
1 January 2020
Preceded byTimmy Chow Ping-tim
ConstituencyHoi Bun
57th Deputy Secretary General of Hong Kong Federation of Students
In office
1 April 2014 – 31 March 2015
Secretary GeneralAlex Chow
Preceded byWillis Ho
Johnson Yeung
Succeeded byWong Ka-fai
Personal details
Born (1993-06-11) 11 June 1993 (age 27)
New York, United States
CitizenshipHong Kong
NationalityUnited States (1993–2020)[1]
Political partyTeam Chu Hoi-dick of New Territories West
ResidenceHong Kong
EducationChinese University of Hong Kong
Lester Shum
Traditional Chinese岑敖暉
Simplified Chinese岑敖晖

Early lifeEdit

Shum was born in New York, United States. He came to Hong Kong as a toddler during the mid-1990s.[3] He identified as a Hongkonger, expressing his emotional attachment to the city.[4] Shum completed his secondary education at Sheng Kung Hui Tsang Shiu Tim Secondary School before enrolling in The Chinese University of Hong Kong (CUHK). Initially majored in Information Engineering, he later switched to studying Government and Public Administration.[5]

Shum grew up in a middle-class household.[6] According to Shum, his political awakening came from the popular internet forum Hong Kong Golden Forum.[7]

Umbrella MovementEdit

Shum was the vice president of the Student Union at CUHK between 2013 and 2014.[8] He later became the deputy secretary-general of the Hong Kong Federation of Students (HKFS) from April 2014 to March 2015.[7][9] In his role, Shum and student leader Alex Chow galvanized the 2014 class boycott campaign against the decision of the National People's Congress Standing Committee (NPCSC), which set the framework of the restrictive electoral method in the 2017 Chief Executive election.[10][11]

In September 2014, the student movement led to the massive Occupy protests, where Shum was joined by thousands of pro-democracy activists to oppose Beijing's tightening control over Hong Kong.[12] Over the next few weeks, he continued participating in a series of highly publicized sit-in demonstrations, which had been described as the Umbrella Movement.[13][14] Shum explained, "We believe that the occupation is our biggest bargaining chip, and for now it is able to apply the most pressure against the government."[15]

Shum was critical of how the government had handled the protests.[16] After the Hong Kong Police Force fired 87 rounds of tear gas at protesters, Shum called for Leung Chun-ying to step down as Chief Executive of Hong Kong.[17][18] On 21 October, Shum was part of a five-member HKFS delegation, which included Chow and Nathan Law, to hold discussions with government officials, conducted by Chief Secretary for Administration Carrie Lam. The meeting failed to reach a resolution between the student leaders and the government.[19]

On 26 November, Shum and fellow activist Joshua Wong were arrested during a protest in Mong Kok.[20] The arrest came after police sought a court order to clear the protest site, in which Shum failed to comply.[21][22] Shum was charged with criminal contempt of court over his participation in the Mong Kok protest, which he pleaded guilty on 28 November 2017.[23][24] In his verdict, he received a one-month suspended sentence and a fine.[25]

As the Umbrella Movement dwindled in the following months, Shum stated his plans to focus on bolstering his knowledge about the Hong Kong–mainland China relations.[26] He reflected, "We will continue to work hard to expand Hong Kong's democracy movement."[27][28]

Post-Occupy activismEdit

Shum continued his pro-democracy activism after the Umbrella Movement. On 25 February 2015, he spoke at the Geneva Summit for Human Rights and Democracy with Alex Chow to an international audience of human rights activists.[29][30] During his speech, Shum maintained his optimism about achieving change in Hong Kong through continuous attention and action.[31]

After the 2016 Hong Kong legislative election, Shum found employment as an assistant to localist lawmaker Eddie Chu.[32] In April 2019, he filed a judicial review against, and sought an injunction to block, the government's planned transferral of a prime Central Harbourfront site to the unfettered control of the Chinese army.[33] The action followed long-running public concern at the proposed transfer, and Shum stated the government's undertakings contradicted the public access and usage of the harbourfront.[34]

On 4 September 2019, Shum joined Chu and Joshua Wong as the trio arrived at Taipei, where they spoke about the ongoing Hong Kong protests at the Democratic Progressive Party’s headquarters.[35] Shum told the Taiwanese press, "I hope people can brainstorm together on how to win this war against Beijing’s white terror and authoritarian rule."[36] The trio also appealed to the Taiwanese government to grant political asylum for the Hong Kong protesters.[37]

After the anti-mask law was introduced on 4 October, Shum and activist Leung Kwok-hung applied to the High Court for an interim injunction to halt the law on the same day.[38] Shum explained the law could interfere with the freedom of expression and the right to peaceful assembly.[39] The injunction was denied.[40]

Political careerEdit

District CouncilEdit

Shum contested in the 2019 Hong Kong District Council election for the Hoi Bun constituency. Part of his electoral platform was to improve the recycling initiatives within his local community.[41] On 28 November 2019, Shum received 56.5% of the votes and won against incumbent Timmy Chow Ping-tim, who held this seat for nearly 30 years since 1991.[2][42] His victory came amid a pro-democracy wave that prompted a record voter turnout of 79.5% in Hoi Bun, significantly higher than any previous elections.[43]

Legislative Council bidEdit

In June 2020, Shum declared his intention to run for the 2020 Hong Kong legislative election. In his announcement, he planned to renounce his American citizenship, which was a requirement to run in the election.[3][44] Speaking about his decision, Shum expressed his willingness to stay in Hong Kong and continue his journey with other protesters.[45][46]

Leading to the pro-democracy primaries, Shum had joined a six-person alliance with candidates Eddie Chu, Joshua Wong, Gwyneth Ho, Sunny Cheung and Tiffany Yuen.[47] In July 2020, he ran in the primary for the District Council (Second) constituency, emerging as the runner-up behind Roy Kwong. He received 129,074 votes, which represented 24.35% of the electorate, and secured a nomination spot in the general election.[48] The primary witnessed high voter turnout even after the national security law was enforced, prompting Shum to remark that "Hong Kong people have still not given up."[49]


On 30 July, the government stated that Shum was among a dozen pro-democracy candidates whose nominations were 'invalid'.[50] Shum's disqualification was determined by an opaque process in which civil servants, who served as returning officers, assessed whether candidates objected to the enactment of the national security law, or expressed sincerity in statements made disavowing separatism.[51][52]


  1. ^ "佔領結束3年 岑敖暉終認美籍".
  2. ^ a b "2019 District Councils Election - Election Results (Tsuen Wan)". www.elections.gov.hk. Retrieved 2020-07-21.
  3. ^ a b Law, Violet. "Hong Kong: For those who stay, the fight is on as threats lurk". www.aljazeera.com. Retrieved 2020-07-21.
  4. ^ "Student protest leaders Chow and Shum get back to their studies". South China Morning Post. 2014-12-27. Retrieved 2020-07-21.
  5. ^ Sataline, Suzanne. "'We Cannot Let This Movement End Here'". Foreign Policy. Retrieved 2020-07-21.
  6. ^ 【壹週刊】文青遇上高登仔 周永康、岑敖暉 (When Hipster meets "Golden son" - Lester Shum and Alex Chow). Apple Daily, 2014, 9(21):
  7. ^ a b Allen-Ebrahimian, Grace Tsoi, Bethany. "The People Behind Hong Kong's Protests". Foreign Policy. Retrieved 2020-07-21.
  8. ^ "Hong Kong activists fear they are being monitored by Beijing". the Guardian. 2014-12-14. Retrieved 2020-07-21.
  9. ^ Hilgers, Lauren (2015-02-18). "Hong Kong's Umbrella Revolution Isn't Over Yet". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2020-07-21.
  10. ^ Coonan, Clifford. "Hong Kong students take to streets for democracy protest". The Irish Times. Retrieved 2020-07-21.
  11. ^ MacLeod, Calum. "Hong Kong students skip classes to demand democratic elections". USA TODAY. Retrieved 2020-07-21.
  12. ^ "Arrests as Hong Kong Police Clear Protesters From Buildings; Protests Remain in Square". Newsweek. 2014-09-27. Retrieved 2020-07-20.
  13. ^ "Occupy Central: An Explainer". Time. Retrieved 2020-07-21.
  14. ^ Crookes, Del (2014-09-29). "Hong Kong umbrella protests - what's going on?". BBC Newsbeat. Retrieved 2020-07-21.
  15. ^ "'Crackdown or climbdown': Hong Kong protesters face stark choices". CNBC. 2014-10-08. Retrieved 2020-07-21.
  16. ^ "The Umbrella Revolution Is Televised". Time. Retrieved 2020-07-21.
  17. ^ "HK protesters threaten to occupy buildings". SBS News. Retrieved 2020-07-21.
  18. ^ "Hong Kong protesters threaten to occupy buildings". The Economic Times. Retrieved 2020-07-21.
  19. ^ "Talks fail to narrow gap between student leaders and Hong Kong government". South China Morning Post. 2014-10-21. Retrieved 2020-07-21.
  20. ^ "Hong Kong student leaders arrested as police attempt to clear protest zone". The Guardian. 26 November 2014. Retrieved 26 November 2014.
  21. ^ "Hong Kong protest leaders arrested as police clear area". ITV News. Retrieved 2020-07-21.
  22. ^ "Hong Kong police arrest protesters, 7 officers". The Seattle Times. 2014-11-27. Retrieved 2020-07-21.
  23. ^ "Activist Lester Shum 'prepared for prison', as jailed Joshua Wong returns to court over Occupy protest charges". Hong Kong Free Press HKFP. 2017-08-22. Retrieved 2020-07-21.
  24. ^ "Mong Kok Umbrella Movement: 4 democracy activists handed suspended sentences over Occupy clearance". Hong Kong Free Press. 28 November 2017. Retrieved 28 November 2017.
  25. ^ "CBC News". Joshua Wong, Hong Kong activist in Umbrella Movement protests, imprisoned 3 months. 2018-01-17.
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  27. ^ Tiezzi, Shannon. "Hong Kong's 'Occupy Central' Draws to a Close". thediplomat.com. Retrieved 2020-07-21.
  28. ^ "One Year On, Hong Kong Remembers The Umbrella Movement". Radio Free Asia. Retrieved 2020-07-21.
  29. ^ "Geneva Summit for Human Rights and Democracy – IIMA – Human Rights Office". Retrieved 2020-07-21.
  30. ^ "Geneva rights summit draws world attention, spotlights Boko Haram, ISIS, China, Cuba, France, Iran, North Korea, Pakistan, Russia, Tibet, Turkey, Venezuela". UN Watch. 2015-02-24. Retrieved 2020-07-21.
  31. ^ "Keep up pressure for democracy in Hong Kong, student leaders tell world summit". South China Morning Post. 2015-02-25. Retrieved 2020-07-21.
  32. ^ "New wave of leaders step into breach for jailed Hong Kong democracy activists". AsiaOne. 2017-09-08. Retrieved 2020-07-21.
  33. ^ Activist Lester Shum files legal challenge against gov’t plan for Chinese army dock on Hong Kong harbour, Hong Kong Free Press, 10 April 2019
  34. ^ "Second court challenge against Hong Kong harbourfront military dock". South China Morning Post. 2019-04-10. Retrieved 2020-07-21.
  35. ^ "HK activists call for Taiwanese to rally - Taipei Times". www.taipeitimes.com. 2019-09-04. Retrieved 2020-07-21.
  36. ^ "Activists urge Taiwan to join fight for Hong Kong democracy". Reuters. 2019-09-03. Retrieved 2020-07-21.
  37. ^ Chan, K. G. (2019-09-05). "HK activists fly to Taiwan to drum up support". Asia Times. Retrieved 2020-07-21.
  38. ^ "Lester Shum seeks court's help against new law - RTHK". news.rthk.hk. Retrieved 2020-07-21.
  39. ^ Pao, Jeff (2019-10-07). "Two appear in HK court for breaking anti-mask law". Asia Times. Retrieved 2020-07-21.
  40. ^ Lung, Natalie; Marlow, Iain; Mc Nicholas, Aaron (2019-10-04). "Person Shot as Train Services Remain Suspended: Hong Kong Update". Bloomberg. Retrieved 2020-07-21.
  41. ^ Editor (2019-11-23). "Former student activists standing in the District Council elections". Varsity. Retrieved 2020-07-21.CS1 maint: extra text: authors list (link)
  42. ^ "Hong Kong district council winners speak of motivations and next steps". South China Morning Post. 2019-12-07. Retrieved 2020-07-21.
  43. ^ "Hong Kong elections: middle-class voters desperate to make voice heard as prosperous areas see record turnouts of more than 80 per cent". www.msn.com. Retrieved 2020-07-21.
  44. ^ "岑敖暉棄美籍 爭超區出線". Apple Daily 蘋果日報 (in Chinese). Retrieved 2020-07-21.
  45. ^ "放棄美國護照 不是值得與否的問題 | 岑敖暉 | 立場新聞". 立場新聞 Stand News. Retrieved 2020-07-21.
  46. ^ "【立會選戰】岑敖暉報名戰超區 正辦理棄美國籍手續 | 獨媒報導". 香港獨立媒體網. Retrieved 2020-07-21.
  47. ^ "【民主派初選】初步結果公布 黃碧雲低票料出局 多區本土派勢入圍". Stand News. July 13, 2020. Retrieved July 13, 2020.
  48. ^ "Hong Kong democrat primaries in full: Young 'localist resistance camp' come out on top". Hong Kong Free Press HKFP. 2020-07-16. Retrieved 2020-07-21.
  49. ^ Ramzy, Austin; Yu, Elaine; May, Tiffany (2020-07-13). "Hong Kong Voters Defy Beijing, Endorsing Protest Leaders in Primary". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2020-07-21.
  50. ^ "Twelve pro-democracy figures barred from Legco poll". RTHK. 30 July 2020.
  51. ^ Hong Kong bans Joshua Wong and 11 other pro-democracy figures from legislative election, HKFP, 30 July 2020
  52. ^ Ng, Huileng Tan,Abigail (2020-07-31). "Critics slam Hong Kong's move to disqualify pro-democracy candidates from September election". CNBC. Retrieved 2020-07-31.

External linksEdit

Political offices
Preceded by
Chow Ping-tim
Member of Tsuen Wan District Council
Representative for Hoi Bun