4 lawmakers disqualified Legislators found to have deviated from statutory wording of the oath
The High Court has thrown four lawmakers out of the Legislative Council for violating the legal requirements of oathtaking when they were being sworn in.
They are the second group of legislators to be disqualified for not taking the oath properly after two separatist lawmakers were removed last November.
In a written judgment handed down on Friday, Court of First Instance judge Thomas Au Hing-cheung said the oaths of the four lawmakers — Leung Kwok-hung, Edward Yiu Chung-yim, Lau Siu-lai and Nathan Law Kwun-chung — didn’t follow the strict wording and solemnity as required by law. Therefore, the court ordered the four to be disqualified with immediate effect. Their LegCo membership was deemed invalid from Oct 12, 2016, when the oathtaking ceremony was held.
The four lawmakers were found to have deviated from the statutory wording of the oath. This amounts to an unlawful swearing-in according to the National People’s Congress Standing Committee’s (NPCSC) interpretation of the Basic Law.
The court was told that during the solemn swearing-in, Leung was chanting political slogans; Yiu added words to his oath.
Lau read her oath with a sixsecond interval between each Chinese character deliberately, as she admitted, to profane the oath.
Law changed the tone of his voice when pledging allegiance to China to make it sound like a question.
The judicial review to challenge the eligibility of the four was moved by former chief executive Leung Chun-ying and Secretary for Justice Rimsky Yuen Kwok-keung last December.
Earlier in November 2016, two lawmakers were disqualified after they advocated independence and insulted the nation during the swearing-in in October.
Outside the courtroom on Friday, a group of Hong Kong people applauded the court’s decision.
Chief Executive Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor said she respects the judgment. She said the basis of a healthy executive-legislative relation is the rule of law.
LegCo President Andrew Leung Kwan-yuen said the LegCo Secretariat will send a letter to each of the disqualified lawmakers to inform them to move out of their offices in two weeks. The LegCo Commission will discuss later how much salary and remuneration the lawmakers should pay back.
He said previous votes cast in LegCo would not be affected.
The LegCo will have its summer recess from the end of July to early October. A by-election is expected within several months.
In a written ruling on Friday, the Court of First Instance of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region disqualified four opposition members of the Legislative Council (LegCo) on the ground that they deliberately messed up their oaths of office at the swearing-in ceremony last October and therefore violated Article 104 of the Basic Law and Section 21 of Hong Kong’s Oaths and Declarations Ordinance.
The ruling concluded court deliberations over a judicial review filed by Leung Chun-ying, then Hong Kong chief executive, and the Department of Justice challenging the legitimacy of the four wayward politicians’ LegCo membership.
It is a ruling Hong Kong residents had been waiting for since the High Court began hearing the case and yet another proof the rule of law in the SAR is still sound and effective.
The four — Leung Kwok-hung, Lau Siu-lai, Nathan Law Kwun-chung and Yiu Chung-yim — now join former lawmakers-elect Sixtus Leung Chung-hang and Yau Wai-ching, who were disqualified for the same reason late last year. They all changed the text of the oath of office and/or put on acts of mockery to show they reject the whole idea of taking the oath according to the Basic Law, which is mandatory for all legislatorselect. And the failure to do so means disqualification from LegCo.
The two cases show that certain political figures have no respect for the rule of law and hold a particular grudge against the Basic Law because it is a law of the People’s Republic of China, the sovereign state Hong Kong is a part of.
The latest court decision deems Leung, Lau, Law and Yiu disqualified from office the day they messed up with their oaths of office last October, which means they have no right to participate in LegCo business any longer.
However, all four of them, with the support of their fellow legislators, refused to leave the conference room when the chairman of the LegCo finance committee, which was in session at that time, told them to leave after hearing the news about the court ruling. As a result the chairman had to adjourn the meeting till Saturday. That some so-called lawmakers are hell-bent on defying court rulings shows their true color. And one could imagine how much respect these now-disqualified lawmakers have for the legal system.
Apart from the six disqualified legislators, some other LegCo members, too, didn’t take the oath of office according to relevant laws. Several others are suspect and may have to face justice in the near future. Some of them had indulged in equally deplorable acts on a previous occasion and got away with it. The court ruling shows no one can violate the law and expect to escape justice.
Residents outside the High Court hold placards and shout slogans on Friday to support the disqualification of four lawmakers who did not follow required procedures when they took their oaths to serve on the Legislative Council in October last year.