Anti-China law­mak­ers lose ap­peal over ban

The Myanmar Times - - World -

TWO pro-in­de­pen­dence Hong Kong law­mak­ers lost their ap­peal against a ban pre­vent­ing them from tak­ing up their seats in par­lia­ment as Bei­jing faces ac­cu­sa­tions of step­ping up in­ter­fer­ence in the city’s pol­i­tics.

Bag­gio Le­ung and Yau Wai-ching, de­lib­er­ately mis­read their oaths of of­fice, in­serted ex­ple­tives and draped them­selves with “Hong Kong is not China” flags dur­ing a swear­ing-in cer­e­mony in Oc­to­ber.

They are part of a new move­ment ad­vo­cat­ing a com­plete split from Bei­jing for semi-au­ton­o­mous Hong Kong, as young pro-democ­racy cam­paign­ers grow frus­trated with a lack of po­lit­i­cal re­form.

Bei­jing hit out at the elected pair in a spe­cial “in­ter­pre­ta­tion” of the city’s con­sti­tu­tion ear­lier in Novem­ber that ef­fec­tively pre­vented them from tak­ing up their seats be­cause of the way they took the oath.

Fol­low­ing Bei­jing’s protest, Hong Kong’s High Court ruled the two law­mak­ers should be dis­qual­i­fied from the leg­is­la­ture be­cause their oaths were in­valid, in an un­prece­dented ju­di­cial re­view brought by the city’s leader and jus­tice sec­re­tary.

Ms Yau and Mr Le­ung ap­pealed, but lost out yes­ter­day in a judg­ment that took Be­ji­ing’s rul­ing into ac­count, amid crit­i­cism that the sep­a­ra­tion of pow­ers in Hong Kong has been com­pro­mised.

The Court of Ap­peal’s judg­ment re­ferred to Bei­jing’s rul­ing as giv­ing the “true mean­ing” to the part of the con­sti­tu­tion that re­quires law­mak­ers to take an oath of al­le­giance to Hong Kong as a spe­cial ad­min­is­tra­tive re­gion of China.

The judg­ment said the court’s duty to ap­ply the city’s con­sti­tu­tion, known as the Ba­sic Law, out­weighed the doc­trine of sep­a­ra­tion of pow­ers and non­in­ter­ven­tion.

Ms Yau and Mr Le­ung were orig­i­nally of­fered a sec­ond chance at tak­ing the oath by the pres­i­dent of the leg­is­la­ture, but Bei­jing stepped in to pre­vent that.

Its spe­cial in­ter­pre­ta­tion of the Ba­sic Law ruled that any oath-taker who does not fol­low the pre­scribed word­ing of the oath, “or takes the oath in a man­ner which is not sin­cere”, should be dis­qual­i­fied.

Yes­ter­day’s ap­peal judg­ment said there could be “no dis­pute” that Ms Yau and Mr Le­ung had de­clined to take the oath.

They are now ex­pected to take their case to the Court of Fi­nal Ap­peal for fi­nal ar­bi­tra­tion.

The judg­ment came as the gov­ern­ment an­nounced plans to take a third demo­crat­i­cally elected law­maker to court over her oath-tak­ing.

The depart­ment of jus­tice said it would ini­ti­ate pro­ceed­ings against teacher Lau Siu-lai, a prom­i­nent ac­tivist who made her name dur­ing the city’s mass pro-democ­racy ral­lies in 2014.

It gave no fur­ther de­tail on the grounds for the case. –

Photo: AFP

Pro-in­de­pen­dence law­mak­ers Bag­gio Le­ung (L) and Yau Wai-ching speak to the press out­side the High Court in Hong Kong yes­ter­day.

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