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Basic Law

Young and dangerous: localist lawmakers have done great damage to Hong Kong

From insulting the nation while taking their oaths to causing mayhem in the legislature, Youngspiration pair have clearly crossed the line

PUBLISHED : Friday, 04 November, 2016, 12:24am
UPDATED : Friday, 04 November, 2016, 1:04am

There is growing unease in Hong Kong as the row over two lawmakers who deliberately misread their swearing-in oath escalates. The chaos in the Legislative Council continued for a fourth week, as some lawmakers stormed Wednesday’s meeting again, resulting in six security guards being injured. Meanwhile, a possible interpretation of the Basic Law – the city’s mini-constitution – by the National People’s Congress Standing Committee looms large, just as the High Court in Hong Kong has begun a hearing into whether the two errant lawmakers should be disqualified.

The two localists at the centre of the storm – Yau Wai-ching and Sixtus Baggio Leung Chung-hang of Youngspiration – maintain that they have the people’s mandate to serve as lawmakers. But under a second ruling by Legco president Andrew Leung Kwan-yuen, they are not allowed to retake their oaths pending the court’s decision. It is disappointing that some pan-democrats defied both the ruling and Legco house rules to help the pair and their legislative aides disrupt the meeting on Wednesday. Such behaviour is totally unacceptable.

The suggestion that the NPC Standing Committee may interpret the relevant provisions in the Basic Law to remove the two from office has understandably sparked concerns in the legal sector and the community at large. The Bar Association warned that such a move would deal a severe blow to the independence of the judiciary and do irreparable harm.

Hong Kong government has not been told if Beijing will intervene to ban pro-independence lawmakers

The city’s courts are known for their independence. Until Beijing has given a legally binding interpretation, we can trust our judges to rule impartially and in accordance to local legislation and the Basic Law. There are those who question whether it is worth taking legal action against two young lawmakers at the risk of damage to our judicial independence. From Beijing’s point of view, an oath littered with insults against China and the advocacy of the city’s independence has crossed the line.

Since Hong Kong’s return to Chinese sovereignty in 1997, the Basic Law has been interpreted by the top national legislative body four times. This time, the central government is clearly sending a warning that any advocacy of independence for the city, particularly by lawmakers, will not be tolerated. While such a move is within the constitutional order, inevitably it is perceived to have an impact on our judicial independence and the “one country, two systems” principle. Should the interpretation go ahead, it will no doubt clear up the current mess in Legco. But, sadly, it will come at a high price to Hong Kong.