Opposition legislators’ reaction hypocritical
Decries the antics of LegCo members, some of whom are lawyers and should know better, following the High Court’s disqualification of four over improper oath-taking
The opposition parties’ reaction to the High Court’s ruling on the disqualification of four Legislative Council members exposes their hypocrisy in claiming to be the guardian of the rule of law in Hong Kong!
TVB should be praised for repeatedly showing in their news, while reporting the court’s ruling, the recordings of the four’s frivolous antics when they should have taken their oaths of office in an appropriate manner befitting the solemnity of the occasion on Oct 12 last year. Anyone with a fair and objective mind, on watching the recordings, would fully agree with the court’s conclusion that these four had failed to take their oaths “solemnly, sincerely, and in its entirety” in accordance with the law. Hence they had only themselves to blame for having their LegCo positions stripped. Little wonder their protest outside the Central Government Offices that same evening attracted so few supporters.
It is interesting to note that the presiding judge, Justice Thomas Au Hing-cheung, is a law graduate of the University of Hong Kong and was formerly a member of the Civic Party, membership of which he gave up upon being appointed a judge. Accordingly, the opposition parties can hardly argue that his judgment is politically motivated. According to many legal experts, his judgment is flawless and there is little chance the disqualified LegCo members can win in their appeal to the Court of Final Appeal.
The blatant acts of contempt of court by the four disqualified LegCo members and their supporters in helping them to gatecrash a Finance Committee meeting are an affront to LegCo and our rule of law. They even ignored the Finance Committee chairman’s order to leave the conference room, forcing the committee meeting to be abruptly stopped and adjourned. This in itself was clearly The author is the former deputy commissioner of the Independent Commission Against Corruption and currently an adjunct professor of HKU SPACE and an international anti-corruption consultant.
an act of breach of the injunction order and prosecutable for contempt of court. On the following day, when the Finance Committee reconvened, they attempted once again to force their way into the conference room. This time, their opposition colleagues actually attempted to form a phalanx to help them gain entry. They are all now clearly either conspiring or aiding and abetting in the offense of contempt of court. It is astonishing to note that among them are LegCo members from the legal profession. They should have known better!
I recall vividly how the Hong Kong Bar Association and Civic Party had vociferously condemned certain Hong Kong citizens who criticized the courts’ absurdly lenient sentences over offenses committed during the “Occupy Central” campaign. Now that the shoe is on the other foot, they have the gall to attack a most respected High Court judge for his transparently fair judgment. It is a sad reflection of their double standards and hypocrisy. This is particularly inexcusable for those who are barristers or solicitors, and we should all lodge a complaint to the Bar Association and Law Society of Hong Kong over their unprofessional and illegal behavior, suggesting disciplinary proceedings for breach of the injunction order, contempt of court and bringing their profession into disrepute.
Indeed the deliberately contemptuous and distorted way of oath-taking by the four disqualified LegCo members in itself is a total disregard of the legality of the oath and our rule of law, and should have been condemned outright by all legal professionals, but they have kept mum up to now. And yet, they have the temerity to preach to us from time to time about the sanctity of rule of law!
If the government is serious about promoting the rule of law, the Department of Justice and the police should consider charging these LegCo members for contempt of court.
The Finance Committee is currently in its final session in approving some very important government finance projects, including the HK$3.6 billion additional education funding which needs to be approved now, so it can be implemented in the coming school term in September to the immense benefit of the teachers and students. Those students who have passed the Diploma of Secondary Education benchmark and apply for self-financing degree programs are expected to be given a HK$30,000 grant each in the coming university term. But if the project cannot be approved by the Finance Committee in its final session, one can imagine the financial hardship that may befall these students and their parents. Let’s not use our needy citizens’ welfare as a political football.
The next Finance Committee meeting would serve as a litmus test. The Finance Committee chairman exercised restraint and compromise, perhaps too much, in adjourning two sessions, causing a huge loss of valuable time in discussing this education fund. In the next meeting on Wednesday he must be prepared to take tough measures to ensure meaningful debates take place. If opposition LegCo members continue to behave irresponsibly as in the last two meetings, it will just show that they never had the public’s best interests at heart. It would then be fully justified for the pro-establishment camp to take advantage of the current majority in LegCo to amend the LegCo procedural rules to stop future filibustering and other obstructive tactics in the chamber.