New HK law­mak­ers thumb noses at China

> Three rep­re­sen­ta­tives not sworn into Legco af­ter ‘mod­i­fy­ing’ their oaths

The Sun (Malaysia) - - NEWS WITHOUT BORDERS -

HONG KONG: Rebel law­mak­ers swore, shouted, banged drums and railed against “tyranny” yes­ter­day when they took their oaths of of­fice in Hong Kong’s par­lia­ment, as calls grow for a split from Beijing.

The chaotic first meet­ing of the new term of the Leg­isla­tive Coun­cil (Legco) came af­ter a vote last month saw vic­to­ries for sev­eral law­mak­ers ad­vo­cat­ing more au­ton­omy or even in­de­pen­dence.

The city is semi-au­ton­o­mous un­der a deal sealed when Bri­tain re­turned Hong Kong to China in 1997.

The ar­range­ment pro­tects Hong Kong’s free­doms for 50 years, but there are in­creas­ing con­cerns those lib­er­ties are dis­ap­pear­ing as China tight­ens its grip.

Law­mak­ers are re­quired to re­cite a short oath in Legco be­fore they can of­fi­cially take up their seats.

That oath de­clares re­peat­edly that Hong Kong is a “spe­cial ad­min­is­tra­tive re­gion” of China.

The gov­ern­ment had warned law­mak­ers in ad­vance they risked los­ing their seats if they did not take the oath prop­erly.

Nathan Law, 23, Legco’s youngest law­maker and a for­mer pro-democ­racy protest leader, de­liv­ered an im­pas­sioned speech ahead of tak­ing the oath.

“You can chain me, you can tor­ture me, you can even de­stroy this body – but you can never im­prison my mind,” he said, quot­ing In­dia’s in­de­pen­dence leader Ma­hatma Gandhi.

Each time he re­ferred to China in the oath, he changed the tone to turn it into a ques­tion.

Law was one of the main lead­ers of the 2014 Um­brella Move­ment ral­lies which brought tens of thou­sands to the streets.

Two new pro-in­de­pen­dence law­mak­ers, Bag­gio Le­ung and Yau Wai-ching, added their own words be­fore the oath, pledg­ing to serve the “Hong Kong na­tion”.

Both dis­played flags em­bla­zoned with the words: “Hong Kong is not China”.

Le­ung took the full oath in English but re­fused to pro­nounce “China” cor­rectly, in­stead call­ing it “Cheena”.

New law­maker Ed­die Chu, who ad­vo­cates a pub­lic ref­er­en­dum on Hong Kong’s fu­ture sovereignty, shouted “Demo­cratic self-de­ter­mi­na­tion! Tyranny will per­ish!” af­ter tak­ing his oath.

Teacher Lau Siu-lai, also a for­mer Um­brella Move­ment ac­tivist, read ev­ery word of the oath at a snail’s pace, prompt­ing some pro-Beijing law­mak­ers to walk out.

The Legco clerk told Le­ung, Yau and one other pro-democ­racy law­maker that he was un­able to “ad­min­is­ter” their oaths, be­cause they had mod­i­fied them. It is not yet clear if the law­mak­ers deemed not to have taken the oath prop­erly will be barred from tak­ing up their seats. – AFP


Re-elected law­maker Le­ung Kwok-hung throws a torn plac­ard while tak­ing oath at the Leg­isla­tive Coun­cil yes­ter­day.

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