2 anti-China MPs dis­qual­i­fied from Hong Kong par­lia­ment

Kuwait Times - - INTERNATIONAL -

A Hong Kong court yes­ter­day ruled to dis­qual­ify two pro-in­de­pen­dence law­mak­ers from par­lia­ment, a week af­ter Bei­jing said it would not al­low the pair to be sworn into of­fice as fears grow of the city’s lib­er­ties com­ing un­der threat. Bag­gio Le­ung and Yau Wai-ching de­lib­er­ately mis­read their oaths of of­fice, in­serted ex­ple­tives and draped them­selves with “Hong Kong is not China” flags dur­ing a swear­ing-in cer­e­mony last month, prompt­ing a ju­di­cial re­view into their fu­ture as leg­is­la­tors.

“Mr. Le­ung and Ms Yau have been dis­qual­i­fied from as­sum­ing and have va­cated the of­fice of a mem­ber of the Leg­isla­tive Coun­cil,” judge Thomas Au said in a writ­ten judg­ment. “The oaths pur­port­edly taken by Mr. Le­ung and Ms Yau on Oc­to­ber 12 2016... are in­valid and void and have no le­gal ef­fect,” Au said. Au also said the way they took their oaths showed “clearly that they did not truth­fully and faith­fully in­tend to com­mit them­selves to up­hold and abide by” the city’s con­sti­tu­tion. “With or with­out (Bei­jing’s) in­ter­pre­ta­tion, the court would reach the same con­clu­sion,” he added. Yau told a me­dia scrum out­side the court­house that the rul­ing did not come as a sur­prise to her.

“I knew that there was this pos­si­bil­ity... the govern­ment has used so many small acts to sup­press the courts and the courts had so much pres­sure and came up with such a de­ci­sion,” she said. The High Court’s de­ci­sion was pre­empted by Bei­jing’s rul­ing last week, which said that any oath taker who does not fol­low the pre­scribed word­ing of the oath, “or takes the oath in a man­ner which is not sin­cere or not solemn”, should be dis­qual­i­fied. That move was slammed by pro-democ­racy ac­tivists and le­gal ex­perts as a mas­sive blow to Hong Kong’s ju­di­cial in­de­pen­dence and sparked demon­stra­tions by both pro-Bei­jing and pro-in­de­pen­dence groups.

Ahead of the court rul­ing, the city’s leader called for zero-tol­er­ance against ac­tivists push­ing for in­de­pen­dence from China.”Those who are ad­vo­cat­ing for in­de­pen­dence and other forms of split­ting from the coun­try are a small mi­nor­ity but I can­not lower my guard and can­not (give them) any tol­er­ance,” Le­ung Chungy­ing told Xin­hua Mon­day. “Mem­bers of the Hong Kong in­de­pen­dence (move­ment) can­not ap­pear in the po­lit­i­cal sys­tem,” Le­ung said.

Hong Kong was handed back to China by Bri­tain in 1997 un­der a “one coun­try, two sys­tems” deal which pro­tects its free­doms for 50 years, but there are grow­ing con­cerns those lib­er­ties are dis­ap­pear­ing.

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