4 law­mak­ers dis­qual­i­fied Leg­is­la­tors found to have de­vi­ated from statu­tory word­ing of the oath

China Daily (Hong Kong) - - FRONT PAGE - Con­tact the writ­ers at stushadow@ chi­nadai­lyhk.com By SHADOW LI and LUIS LIU in Hong Kong

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.

ROY LIU / CHINA DAILY

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.

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