Tong backs lawmakers’ disqualification
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.