Cri­sis looms as HK leg­is­la­tors walk out

> Pro-in­de­pen­dence law­mak­ers blocked from tak­ing oath

The Sun (Malaysia) - - NEWS WITHOUT BORDERS -

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

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