Crisis looms as HK legislators walk out
> Pro-independence lawmakers blocked from taking oath
HONG KONG: Dozens of pro-Beijing lawmakers walked out of the Hong Kong legislature yesterday to prevent the swearing-in of two pro-independence activists, setting the scene for a new constitutional crisis in the Chinesecontrolled city.
The topic of independence has long been taboo in the former British colony, now governed under the “one country, two systems” principle since its return to Communist Party-ruled China in 1997.
The government failed in an unprecedented legal attempt to halt the swearing-in of the two newly elected legislators, Baggio Leung, 30, and Yau Waiching, 25, late on Tuesday evening.
But High Court judge Thomas Au did approve the government’s request for a judicial review of the case, which will take place early next month.
The pro-China lawmakers yesterday marched out of the Legislative Council chamber, leaving Chinese and Hong Kong flags in their place, to deprive it of a quorum.
Senior pro-establishment lawmaker Regina Ip said she generally disapproved of walk-outs, but the legislators had no option after the pair refused to apologise for “insulting our motherland”.
“This is a very exceptional case involving a fundamental principle which involves loyalty to your country and adherence to our oath of upholding the law,” she said.
Yau said it was the pro-establishment camp that needed to apologise as they were “the ones who really betrayed the Hong Kong people”.
New legislative president Andrew Leung, himself a pro-establishment figure, stood by his defiance of government efforts to ban Yau and Leung.
“They are duly elected and I have a constitutional duty to safeguard their rights to fulfil their duties as Legislative Council members,” he said.
He said he thought Hong Kong was still far from a constitutional crisis and said he had no regrets about his decision.
It is unclear when the swearing-in will now take place.
Yau and Leung sparked outrage from Hong Kong’s pro-Beijing establishment when their first oaths were rejected by legislative officials last week.
At the time, they pledged allegiance to the “Hong Kong nation” and displayed a banner declaring that “Hong Kong is not China”, using language some legislators portrayed as derogatory Japanese slang.
Leung and Yau are part of a new generation of Hong Kong activists determined to force issues of selfdetermination and independence on to the mainstream political agenda. – Reuters