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

China Daily (Hong Kong) - - COMMENT -

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.

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