Pro-in­de­pen­dence law­mak­ers blocked from tak­ing oath

The Myanmar Times - - World -

HONG Kong’s leg­is­la­ture again de­scended into chaos yes­ter­day as pro-Bei­jing politi­cians blocked the swearingin of two new law­mak­ers who want a split from China, in an in­creas­ingly di­vided par­lia­ment.

It comes as fears grow in the semi­au­tonomous city that Bei­jing is tight­en­ing its grip, fu­elling an in­de­pen­dence move­ment in Hong Kong.

Yes­ter­day saw ri­val law­mak­ers clash in a heated shout­ing match af­ter the pro-Bei­jing camp walked out of the swear­ing-in ses­sion.

The walk­out led to the meet­ing be­ing can­celled, pre­vent­ing pro-in­de­pen­dence law­mak­ers Yau Wai-ching and Bag­gio Le­ung from tak­ing the oath that would al­low them to take up their seats.

In the en­su­ing con­fronta­tions one veteran pro-democ­racy leg­is­la­tor threw slices of lun­cheon meat at his op­po­nents while an­other was sur­rounded by se­cu­rity af­ter turn­ing China and Hong Kong flags dis­played on pro-Bei­jing law­mak­ers’ desks up­side-down.

Mean­while, pro-Bei­jing law­mak­ers chanted “Apol­o­gise!”, de­mand­ing Mr Yau and Mr Le­ung say sorry for their fail­ure to take the oath prop­erly at last week’s cer­e­mony.

The pair had their oaths re­jected then af­ter they draped them­selves in “Hong Kong is not China” flags. The oath states Hong Kong is a spe­cial ad­min­is­tra­tive re­gion of China.

Both re­fused to pro­nounce China prop­erly, and Mr Yau was heard to re­place the words “the Peo­ple’s Repub­lic of China” with “the Peo­ple’s ref***ing of Zeena”.

They were given per­mis­sion to re­take their oaths yes­ter­day, but the ses­sion was aban­doned af­ter the pro-Bei­jing walk­out left an in­suf­fi­cient num­ber of leg­is­la­tors in the cham­ber.

“If they want peo­ple to re­spect their oaths, they have to ex­press re­gret over their be­hav­iour last week and to apol­o­gise to all Chi­nese around the world,” pro-Bei­jing law­maker Priscilla Le­ung said.

Hun­dreds of pro-Bei­jing sup­port­ers waved Chi­nese flags and stamped on pic­tures of Mr Le­ung and Mr Yau out­side the leg­isla­tive coun­cil build­ing.

Mr Le­ung and Mr Yau said they wanted to com­plete their oaths, but would not apol­o­gise for last week’s be­hav­iour. “We are em­pow­ered by the peo­ple to en­ter the Legco,” Mr Le­ung said.

The former Bri­tish colony was handed back to China in 1997 un­der an agree­ment pro­tect­ing its free­doms for 50 years, but there are con­cerns those lib­er­ties are be­ing eroded.

Mr Le­ung and Mr Yau are part of a new wave of law­mak­ers ad­vo­cat­ing

in­de­pen­dence and self-de­ter­mi­na­tion who won seats in the Leg­isla­tive Coun­cil (Legco) – Hong Kong’s law­mak­ing body – in city­wide elec­tions last month.

Five leg­is­la­tors, in­clud­ing the pair, had their oaths re­jected at last week’s swear­ing-in.

Of those five, one pro-Bei­jing law­maker and one pro-democ­racy law­maker, whose oaths were de­clared in­valid the first time round, were al­lowed to re­take them yes­ter­day.

The Bei­jing camp then walked out, forc­ing the ses­sion to be aban­doned be­fore Mr Yau and Mr Le­ung and prodemoc­racy teacher Lau Siu-lai, who read her oath at a snail’s pace last week, took the stand.

The chaotic scenes came af­ter a latenight court bid on Oc­to­ber 18 by city leader Le­ung Chun-ying and jus­tice sec­re­tary Rim­sky Yuen to block Mr Yau and Mr Le­ung from tak­ing up their seats. That went di­rectly against a de­ci­sion by the pres­i­dent of the Legco, pro-Bei­jing law­maker An­drew Le­ung, who had al­ready given the green light for them to have a se­cond chance at tak­ing the oath.

The court re­fused to grant an in­junc­tion against yes­ter­day’s oath-tak­ing, but gave per­mis­sion for a ju­di­cial re­view into whether the pair should be dis­qual­i­fied, putting their fu­ture as law­mak­ers into ques­tion.

Photo: AFP

Bag­gio Le­ung re­fuses to apol­o­gise.

Photo: AFP

Pro-Bei­jing sup­port­ers demon­strate with ban­ners and plac­ards out­side ahead of a planned se­cond swear­ing-in cer­e­mony of pro-democ­racy law­mak­ers at the Leg­isla­tive Coun­cil in Hong Kong yes­ter­day.

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