HK in­de­pen­dence law­mak­ers blocked from tak­ing oath

Kuwait Times - - INTERNATIONAL -

HONG KONG: Hong Kong’s leg­is­la­ture again de­scended into chaos yes­ter­day as pro-Beijing politi­cians blocked the swear­ing in of two new law­mak­ers who want a split from China, in an in­creas­ingly di­vided par­lia­ment. It comes as fears grow in the semi-au­ton­o­mous city that Beijing is tight­en­ing its grip, fu­elling an in­de­pen­dence move­ment in Hong Kong. Yes­ter­day saw ri­val law­mak­ers clash in a heated shout­ing match af­ter the proBei­jing camp walked out of the swear­ing-in ses­sion.

The walk­out led to the meet­ing be­ing can­celled, pre­vent­ing pro-in­de­pen­dence law­mak­ers Yau Wai-ching and Bag­gio Le­ung from tak­ing the oath that would al­low them to take up their seats. In the en­su­ing con­fronta­tions one vet­eran prodemoc­racy leg­is­la­tor threw slices of lun­cheon meat at his op­po­nents while an­other was sur­rounded by se­cu­rity af­ter turn­ing China and Hong Kong flags dis­played on pro-Beijing law­mak­ers’ desks up­side-down.

Mean­while, pro-Beijing law­mak­ers chanted “Apol­o­gise!”, de­mand­ing Yau and Le­ung say sorry for their fail­ure to take the oath prop­erly at last week’s swear­ing-in cer­e­mony. The pair had their oaths re­jected last Wed­nes­day af­ter they draped them­selves in “Hong Kong is not China” flags. The oath states Hong Kong is a spe­cial ad­min­is­tra­tive re­gion of China.

Both re­fused to pro­nounce China prop­erly, and Yau was heard to re­place the words “the Peo­ple’s Repub­lic of China” with “the Peo­ple’s ref ***** g of Zeena”. They were given per­mis­sion to re­take their oaths Wed­nes­day, but the ses­sion was aban­doned af­ter the proBei­jing walk­out left an in­suf­fi­cient num­ber of leg­is­la­tors in the cham­ber. “If they want peo­ple to re­spect their oaths, they have to ex­press re­gret over their be­hav­ior last week and to apol­o­gize to all Chi­nese around the world,” pro-Beijing law­maker Priscilla Le­ung told re­porters.

Hun­dreds of pro-Beijing sup­port­ers waved Chi­nese flags and stamped on pic­tures of the two out­spo­ken law­mak­ers out­side the leg­isla­tive coun­cil build­ing. The pair said they wanted to com­plete their oaths, but would not apol­o­gize for last week’s be­hav­ior. “We are em­pow­ered by the peo­ple to enter the Legco,” Bag­gio Le­ung said.

Court chal­lenge

The for­mer Bri­tish colony was handed back to China in 1997 un­der an agree­ment pro­tect­ing its free­doms for 50 years, but there are con­cerns those lib­er­ties are be­ing eroded. Le­ung and Yau are part of a new wave of law­mak­ers ad­vo­cat­ing in­de­pen­dence and self­de­ter­mi­na­tion who won seats in the Leg­isla­tive Coun­cil (Legco) — Hong Kong’s law­mak­ing body-in city­wide polls last month. Five leg­is­la­tors, in­clud­ing the pair, had their oaths re­jected at last week’s swear­ing in.

Of those five, one pro-Beijing law­maker and one pro-democ­racy law­maker, whose oaths were de­clared in­valid the first time round, were al­lowed to re­take them Wed­nes­day morn­ing. The Beijing camp then walked out, forc­ing the ses­sion to be aban­doned be­fore Yau, Le­ung and pro-democ­racy teacher Lau Siu-lai, who read her oath at a snail’s pace last week, took the stand. The chaotic scenes came af­ter a late-night court bid Tues­day by city leader Le­ung Chun-ying and jus­tice sec­re­tary Rim­sky Yuen to block Yau and Bag­gio Le­ung from tak­ing up their seats.

That went di­rectly against a de­ci­sion by the pro-Beijing pres­i­dent of Legco, who had al­ready given the green light for them to have a sec­ond chance at the oath. The court re­fused to grant an in­junc­tion against Wed­nes­day’s oath­tak­ing, but gave per­mis­sion for a ju­di­cial re­view into whether the pair should be dis­qual­i­fied, putting their fu­ture as law­mak­ers into ques­tion. In a sep­a­rate case Wed­nes­day, for­mer pro-democ­racy law­maker Ray­mond Wong was con­victed of throw­ing a glass at city leader Le­ung Chun-ying in­side the Legco in 2014. Wong, 64, was con­victed of com­mon as­sault and will be sen­tenced on Tues­day, lo­cal me­dia re­ported. —AFP

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Kuwait

© PressReader. All rights reserved.