Tong backs law­mak­ers’ dis­qual­i­fi­ca­tion

China Daily (Hong Kong) - - TOP NEWS - By JOSEPH LI in Hong Kong joseph@chi­nadai­lyhk.com

The four “pan-demo­cratic” law­mak­ers were rightly de­prived of their Leg­isla­tive Coun­cil seats be­cause they vi­o­lated lo­cal leg­is­la­tion by not tak­ing their oaths hon­estly and solemnly, Ex­ec­u­tive Coun­cilor and Se­nior Coun­sel Ronny Tong Ka-wah says.

The High Court ruled on Fri­day that Le­ung Kwok-hung, Nathan Law Kwun-chung, Ed­ward Yiu Chung-yim and Lau Siu-lai should be dis­qual­i­fied as law­mak­ers for vi­o­lat­ing the le­gal re­quire­ments of oath­tak­ing when they were sworn in last year.

The judg­ment was not po­lit­i­cal sup­pres­sion of them, Tong ex­plained. This is be­cause the Oaths and Dec­la­ra­tions Or­di­nance has clearly spelt out oath-tak­ing re­quire­ments, and non-com­pli­ance with the law may lead to dis­qual­i­fi­ca­tion; the four sim­ply ig­nored the solem­nity of the oath and the le­gal con­se­quences.

They had the right to ap­peal but in the mean­time should re­spect the court rul­ing and the fact that they are no longer leg­is­la­tors and could not ex­er­cise their priv­i­leges as such, he said.

Speak­ing to China Daily in an ex­clu­sive in­ter­view, Tong said the out­come was un­sur­pris­ing. It was also con­sis­tent with the ver­dict on Six­tus Le­ung Chung-hang and Yau Wai-ching, who were dis­qual­i­fied by the court from their LegCo seats for mak­ing a mock­ery of the LegCo oaths and in­sult­ing the Chi­nese na­tion.

“It is a very ro­bust judg­ment un­af­fected by po­lit­i­cal at­mos­phere ex­ter­nally,” Tong said. “From the le­gal and log­i­cal points of view, the court is right to dis­qual­ify the four this time af­ter the Le­ung-Yau case as a prece­dent be­cause what they did was quite sim­i­lar. It is not right to dis­qual­ify Le­ung and Yau only but to let off the four.”

Tong said law­mak­ers and politi­cians could make po­lit­i­cal ges­tures in LegCo but the four chose the wrong oc­ca­sion by

It is a very ro­bust judg­ment un­af­fected by po­lit­i­cal at­mos­phere ex­ter­nally.”

Ronny Tong Ka-wah, ex­ec­u­tive coun­cilor and se­nior coun­sel

not swear­ing in prop­erly. The en­tire oath has only a few sen­tences and con­tains only ba­sic re­quire­ments of uphold­ing the Ba­sic Law of the Hong Kong Spe­cial Ad­min­is­tra­tive Re­gion of the Peo­ple’s Repub­lic of China, and bear­ing al­le­giance to the HKSAR of the PRC.

“The oath is not an ex­ces­sive re­quire­ment and is in fact very rea­son­able. The oath-tak­ing can be fin­ished within two min­utes, yet they could not be­have them­selves for two min­utes,” he said.

Af­ter the ver­dict was de­liv­ered, the four dis­qual­i­fied law­mak­ers at­tempted to force their way into the con­fer­ence room where LegCo’s Fi­nance Com­mit­tee was meet­ing but were stopped by LegCo se­cu­rity guards. The four did not en­ter the con­fer­ence room but the re­main­ing op­po­si­tion law­mak­ers wreaked havoc by protest­ing and shout­ing at the meet­ings. Both meet­ings were aban­doned in the end.

In Tong’s opin­ion, the four ap­peared to have com­mit­ted the of­fense of con­tempt of court be­cause they were no longer law­mak­ers. Those op­po­si­tion law­mak­ers who es­corted them might have also com­mit­ted the same of­fense.

“Con­tempt of court is a crim­i­nal of­fense, which should be fol­lowed up by the De­part­ment of Jus­tice, and even the chief ex­ec­u­tive has no say,” he ad­vised.

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