Sentenced lawmakers might still keep seats
Bid to disqualify two radicals hits snag over whether rules apply to suspended terms
A lawmaker has backed away from her controversial attempt to have two pro-democracy radicals kicked out of the legislature - at least for now.
Ann Chiang Lai-wan, of the pro-Beijing Democratic Alliance for the Betterment and Progress of Hong Kong, had planned a disqualification motion against Wong Yuk-man and Albert Chan Wai-yip.
Wong and Chan were sentenced to six and five weeks in prison, suspended for 14 months and a year respectively, after they were convicted of unlawful assembly two years ago.
Chiang cited the Basic Law provisions as saying that any Legco member sentenced to a year or more should be disqualified.
Retracting the motion yesterday, she said she would await the opinion of the Legislative Council legal consultant on whether a suspended sentence was covered before she decided on presenting the same motion at the House Committee next Friday.
Her motion was opposed not only by those in the democratic camp, but also her pro-establishment allies.
"Although their political philosophy differs from mine, it's still a philosophy," said Michael Tien Puk-sun of the New People's Party. "There wasn't any injury in the protest and I hope they'll be more careful next time."
Former lawmaker Chim Pui-chung lost his seat in 1998 after being sentenced to three years' jail, reduced to 12 months on appeal, for plotting to forge share-transfer documents.
Pro-establishment lawmaker Abraham Razack said that case could not be applied to the present situation.
"In Chim's case, he was sent to jail immediately. But this time, the two were given suspended sentences," he said. "They are still sitting here, disturbing me, and can perform their duties."
Claudia Mo Man-ching of the Civic Party said: "They made no personal gains … they were purely pursuing their political ideals."
While Wong argued his suspended sentence should not be viewed as an imprisonment, Chan "welcomed" Chiang's motion, saying: "If I'm removed, I can run in a by-election - I must turn it into a de facto referendum on universal suffrage."