Chaos as separatist lawmakers defy oath ban to spark more unrest
HONG Kong’s legislature was again reduced to chaos yesterday as political divisions deepen over the swearing-in of two new lawmakers who advocate a split from Beijing.
There are growing concerns in the semi-autonomous city that China is tightening its grip, fuelling an independence movement.
In citywide polls last month, a number of new lawmakers advocating self-determination or independence swept to victory.
But new pro-independence lawmakers Yau Wai-ching and Baggio Leung are yet to be sworn in to the Legislative Council (Legco) – Hong Kong’s lawmaking body.
Their oath-taking was put on hold and they were temporarily barred from meetings, pending a judicial review into their first attempt at taking the pledge two weeks ago.
At that ceremony, they draped themselves in “Hong Kong is not China” flags and altered the wording of their pledges, including derogatory terms and expletives.
But yesterday morning they were bundled into the chamber through a media scrum by supportive legislators demanding they be allowed to take their oath.
The pair ignored repeated calls from pro-Beijing Legco president Andrew Leung for them to leave, with some pro-democracy lawmakers shouting for him to resign.
The session was abandoned after around 30 minutes.
New lawmaker Nathan Law, who advocates self-determination for Hong Kong, said that while he may not endorse the pair’s behaviour when they first took their oaths, they should be allowed to sit as elected lawmakers.
Outside the building, thousands of pro-Beijing supporters waved China’s national flag and called the pro-independence lawmakers “scum”, holding up photos of them pierced with darts.
Pro-Beijing lawmakers had again threatened to walk out this week if the two were allowed to re-take their oaths.
Hong Kong’s city leader and the justice secretary also last week launched a legal bid to disqualify Ms Yau and Mr Baggio because of their behaviour during the first swearing-in session.
Mr Leung said he would defer Mr Baggio and Ms Yau’s oath-taking until the judicial review is complete – it is due to start on November 3, but could last months.
Until that time they would not be
able to enter the chamber, he said.
Pro-Beijing legislators supported his decision while critics said he had caved in to pressure from the proChina camp. –
Newly elected lawmakers Yau Wai-ching ((centre right) and Baggio Leung (centre left) leave following a press conference a after they were not allowed to take their Legislative Council oaths in Hong Kong yesterday.