Dis­qual­i­fied leg­is­la­tors will not change their spots

China Daily (Hong Kong) - - COMMENT - Chan Tak-le­ung The au­thor is the di­rec­tor of the Chi­nese in Bri­tain Fo­rum. He was the first-ever Chi­nese Bri­tish cit­i­zen to be elected mayor of the Greater Lon­don Bor­ough of Red­bridge (2009-10) and served as a mem­ber of the city coun­cil for over 10 years.

It is most dis­turb­ing to read that some, if not all, the re­cently dis­qual­i­fied leg­is­la­tors are con­sid­er­ing stand­ing in forth­com­ing by-elec­tions in or­der to re­turn to Hong Kong’s leg­is­la­ture after their re­moval for un­ruly and dis­re­spect­ful oath­tak­ing ca­pers in Oc­to­ber last year. The say­ing “a leop­ard never changes its spots” might have orig­i­nated in the Bi­ble 2,700 years ago but one would sug­gest it does fit the de­scrip­tion of all the dis­qual­i­fied leg­is­la­tors.

Can Hong Kong af­ford to have these in­di­vid­u­als stand for elec­tion again and risk history re­peat­ing it­self with even greater un­cer­tain­ties and dam­age to the leg­is­la­ture and spe­cial ad­min­is­tra­tive re­gion?

One doubts very much that any of them would be­have dif­fer­ently this time round. They will no doubt de­clare their allegiance with cringed teeth but once for­mal­i­ties are over, they will re­sume their dis­rup­tive be­hav­ior in the Leg­isla­tive Coun­cil cham­ber. For it is com­mon knowl­edge that “peo­ple don’t change they just find new ways to lie”.

Let’s ex­am­ine the facts from even when the dis­qual­i­fied leg­is­la­tors were not present in the ultimate ses­sion of the Leg­isla­tive Coun­cil be­fore its summer re­cess, their “pan-demo­cratic” col­leagues demon­strated no hes­i­tancy in rais­ing threats that it could no longer be “busi­ness as usual” after the chief ex­ec­u­tive re­fused to con­sider tak­ing ex­ec­u­tive pow­ers in dis­charg­ing the dis­qual­i­fied leg­is­la­tors of their le­gal re­spon­si­bil­i­ties. They threat­ened the LegCo pres­i­dent, say­ing they would re­sort to non-co­op­er­a­tive tac­tics in or­der to de­lay pro­ceed­ings of fu­ture fund­ing pro­pos­als.

Have these peo­ple for­got­ten their roles as leg­is­la­tors were to serve the best in­ter­ests of the SAR’s cit­i­zens rather than to act as apol­o­gists for oth­ers’ il­le­gal an­tics? They have def­i­nitely acted in con­tra­ven­tion of the prin­ci­ple of democ­racy and the rule of law. Their er­ro­neous sug­ges­tions will not only un­der­mine the SAR’s ju­di­cial in­de­pen­dence and that of the chief ex­ec­u­tive but have also ex­posed their po­lit­i­cal naivety and self­ish­ness.

Ar­ti­cle 104 of the Ba­sic Law, with the ben­e­fits of its de­fin­i­tive and un­equiv­o­cal ex­pla­na­tions pro­vided by the Na­tional Peo­ple’s Con­gress Stand­ing Com­mit­tee, clearly states that the SAR’s elected leg­is­la­tors are re­quired to “up­hold the Ba­sic Law of the SAR” and to “swear allegiance to the HKSAR”. It fur­ther con­firmed that the same prin­ci­ple should also ap­ply to, and I quote, “le­gal re­quire­ments and pre­con­di­tions for stand­ing for elec­tion in re­spect of or tak­ing up the pub­lic of­fice spec­i­fied in the ar­ti­cle”.

One would strongly ar­gue that it is time for the SAR’s Elec­toral Af­fairs Com­mis­sion to con­sider the best way to en­force these “le­gal re­quire­ments and pre­con­di­tions”. This is to en­sure prospec­tive can­di­dates with a record of not uphold­ing the Ba­sic Law and proven be­hav­ior of in­abil­ity to swear allegiance to the HKSAR will have their ap­pli­ca­tions re­jected forth­with.

“Pub­lic of­fice” re­ferred to in the ar­ti­cle in­cluded the “chief ex­ec­u­tive, prin­ci­ple of­fi­cers, Ex­ec­u­tive and

Leg­isla­tive Coun­cil mem­bers, judges at all lev­els and other mem­bers of the ju­di­ciary”. Should dis­qual­i­fied leg­is­la­tors wish to sign up and take part in forth­com­ing by-elec­tions, one won­ders how these dis­cred­ited in­di­vid­u­als would sud­denly change their “spots” in the space of a few months since they have fre­quently and con­sis­tently be­haved in a man­ner ex­actly op­po­site to what’s re­quired of them in the leg­is­la­ture for years, and in one case for nearly two decades.

Ar­ti­cle 75 of the Ba­sic Law refers to the Rules of Pro­ce­dure of LegCo and its rule No 42 “Be­hav­ior of mem­bers dur­ing meet­ing” had been in place for 20 years. It clearly states, and I quote, “dur­ing a meet­ing of the coun­cil all mem­bers shall en­ter or leave the coun­cil prop­erly at­tired and with deco­rum”. It went on to state that “no mem­ber shall cross the floor of the coun­cil un­nec­es­sar­ily”. One needs to be re­as­sured that “prop­erly at­tired” means not wear­ing T-shirts with deroga­tory re­marks printed on them. One would also want to have re­as­sur­ance that fu­ture leg­is­la­tors will not en­ter the coun­cil with their para­pher­na­lia of posters, bill­boards or even um­brel­las. The pres­i­dent of the coun­cil must be able to ex­er­cise au­thor­ity em­pow­ered in the said Rules of Pro­ce­dures in or­der to main­tain the or­derly pro­ceed­ings of the leg­is­la­ture.

Cross­ing the floor of the LegCo, shout­ing abuse and throw­ing pa­pers all over the cham­ber, us­ing abu­sive lan­guage, seiz­ing doc­u­ments from pub­lic of­fi­cers, stand­ing rather than sit­ting dur­ing pro­ceed­ings were all de­par­tures from the rules that one hopes would dis­ap­pear in the coun­cil.

In Bri­tain, the weekly 30-minute ex­changes be­tween the prime min­is­ter and leader of the op­po­si­tion when par­lia­ment sits is a demon­stra­tion of democ­racy at work. A ro­bust and or­derly cham­ber is good for democ­racy and the rule of law. Those with a history of break­ing the rules and pro­ce­dures of meet­ing, fla­grant breach of pro­to­col and po­lite­ness, act­ing abu­sively and with dis­re­spect should not be al­lowed to stand, not to men­tion to be elected into any leg­is­la­ture.

LegCo needs mea­sures to safe­guard that the Ba­sic Law is being ob­served, its rules of pro­ce­dure are fol­lowed and free­dom of speech for all is re­spected. Enough is enough! It is high time po­ten­tial “leop­ards” are screened out and never al­lowed to con­tam­i­nate the SAR’s leg­is­la­ture again with their ab­hor­rent “spots”.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from China

© PressReader. All rights reserved.