Pat­ten slams HK in­de­pen­dence

Kuwait Times - - INTERNATIONAL -

HONG KONG:

Hong Kong’s last Bri­tish colo­nial gover­nor Chris Pat­ten at­tacked the city’s pro-in­de­pen­dence move­ment yes­ter­day as the push for a split with China grows over fears of Bei­jing’s tight­en­ing grip. Pat­ten said he was fully be­hind the strength­en­ing of democ­racy in Hong Kong, but accused in­de­pen­dence ac­tivists of “mak­ing a mock­ery” of the is­sue. His com­ments came on the same day that two pub­licly elected young law­mak­ers, Bag­gio Le­ung and Yau Wai-ching, ap­pealed against a ban against them tak­ing up their seats in the leg­is­la­ture.

They were dis­qual­i­fied in a High Court judge­ment last week af­ter they added ex­ple­tives and used deroga­tory terms for China when tak­ing their oaths of of­fice in Oc­to­ber. The High Court’s move had been pre­empted by an ear­lier in­ter­ven­tion from Bei­jing which said they should not be al­lowed to join par­lia­ment. Pat­ten was gover­nor of Hong Kong when it was handed back to China by Bri­tain in 1997 un­der a semi-au­ton­o­mous deal pro­tect­ing its free­doms for 50 years. There are deep-seated con­cerns that those lib­er­ties are now un­der threat. He said that he be­lieved pas­sion­ately in the city’s rule of law and free­doms, but dis­missed the pro-in­de­pen­dence camp as re­sort­ing to head­line-grab­bing “an­tics”. “It would be dis­hon­est, dis­hon­ourable and reck­less for some­body like me to pre­tend that the case for democ­racy should be mixed up with an ar­gu­ment about the in­de­pen­dence of Hong Kong,” he told a packed room at the For­eign Cor­re­spon­dents’ Club dur­ing a visit to the city. — AFP

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