Car­rie Lam: Rule of law takes prece­dence

China Daily (Hong Kong) - - FRONT PAGE - By SHADOW LI in Hong Kong stushadow@chi­nadai­

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.

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