Former student activist Agnes Chow and two others arrested were also allegedly involved in the group. Sources said the group is called “I want laam caau,” a Cantonese expression meaning “embrace and fry.” It sums up the popular protest slogan, “If we burn, you burn with us,” used by participants in the anti-government unrest that roiled the former British colony last year.
Officers from the police force’s newly established national security unit arrested media mogul Lai, one of his sons, a senior executive from the tabloid-style paper, and the three activists in a high-profile police operation on Monday.
Force insiders said police were investigating the arrested for alleged activities that took place after the enactment of the law late on June 30. Critics of the law had feared that it would be used retroactively to target Beijing’s political opponents.
The laam caau group’s most recent action was the launch of the “Rise From the Ashes” crowdfunding campaign on May 27, more than a month before the Beijing-drafted national security law on Hong Kong came into force – though the central government had by then indicated it would impose the legislation.
As of Tuesday, more than 17,900 donations had been made to the campaign, accounting for 96% of the group’s $1.75 million goal.
The group had vowed to use the funds to support a range of initiatives for the coming two years.