Carrie Lam: Rule of law takes precedence
Chief Executive Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor on Tuesday said amending relations between the executive and legislature must not be built on compromising the rule of law.
Lam made the remarks on the disqualification of four opposition lawmakers before attending the weekly Executive Council meeting.
“Everything will be done in accordance with the law and in accordance with my purview and jurisdiction,” Lam said. She added that it will be up to the Legislative Council to decide whether or not to seek repayment of salaries and operating expenses of the four ousted members.
Lam said by-elections will proceed in accordance with the law.
On Friday the High Court disqualified four opposition lawmakers from the legislature, in a judicial review initiated by the previous administration, for failing to take their swearing-in proper- ly and solemnly as required by law.
The court ruled that the four — Leung Kwok-hung, Nathan Law Kwun-chung, Lau Siu-lai and Edward Yiu Chung-yim — were removed from their legislature seats since Oct 12 last year, when they violated the oath-taking laws by either interpolating words into the statutory oath, or failing to stick to the wording solemnly.
Two separatist lawmakers had been disqualified for similar reasons by the court in November last year.
It is still unknown whether by-elections will be arranged in a single batch or on two separate occasions as the two cases are still on appeal.
The disqualification of the four has aggravated uncertainty over passing of the government’s latest proposal to earmark HK$3.6 billion in additional funding for the education sector, including an annual HK$30,000 subsidy for qualifying students admitted to study at self-financing institutions.
The Legislative Council’s Finance Committee will have the final meeting of the current LegCo sitting on Wednesday to discuss backlogged bills. The previous two meetings of the committee on Friday and Saturday were halted after chaos erupted following the disqualification on Friday.
The government has, in response, decided to cut down the 18 items on the backlog list to eight, with the education proposal being placed as the first. But the opposition lawmakers have demanded the government extend the subsidy to cover not only the self-financing institutions, but also University Grants Committee (UGC) funded universities.
Lam said the education bill, which had broad support from all the institutions — both the UGC and self-financing — should not be reversed for individual members.
In urging LegCo to pass the eight items on the agenda, Lam said they entailed 16 public projects, involving HK$76 billion and about 10,000 jobs.