Legislative Council

Veteran Hong Kong taxi driver group member asks court to invalidate eight Legco oaths

Judicial review filed at High Court cites Beijing’s recent Basic Law ruling as grounds for vacating seats of anti-establishment lawmakers

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 10 November, 2016, 12:51pm
UPDATED : Wednesday, 30 November, 2016, 10:59am

The troubles of Hong Kong’s pro-democracy bloc have deepened with a local court being asked to declare the swearing-in of eight more lawmakers invalid and for their seats to be vacated.

The lawsuit filed on Wednesday by Robin Cheng Yuk-kai, a veteran member of the Taxi Drivers and Operators Association who previously launched similar legal actions against the 2014 Occupy civil disobedience movement, appeared to perfectly echo the remarks made by two Beijing spokesmen on the same day.

Chen Zuoer, former deputy director of Beijing’s Hong Kong and Macau Affairs Office, and Wang Zhenmin, legal department head of Beijing’s liaison office, catalogued eight types of “insincere oaths”, including the chanting of slogans and use of props, concerning 15 lawmakers.

On Monday, the National People’s Congress Standing Committee issued an interpretation which effectively disqualified lawmakers Sixtus Baggio Leung Chung-hang and Yau Wai-ching, of the pro-independence group Youngspiration, for making comments that Chinese found offensive during their oath-taking

It said lawmakers must be “sincere” in taking their oaths or face instant disqualification.

In his judicial review application filed at the High Court, Cheng ­accuses another eight lawmakers – Raymond Chan Chi-chuen, Cheng Chung-tai, Eddie Chu Hoi-dick, Lau Siu-lai, Nathan Law Kwun-chung, “Long Hair” Leung Kwok-hung, Shiu Ka-chun and Edward Yiu Chung-yim – of failing to take their oaths in accordance with the NPCSC rules.

Should the lawmakers be disqualified, the pro-democracy bloc would lose its “critical minority” to block unsatisfactory political reform proposals.

“In view of their demeanour, speech, attire and props, these [the eight] have acted in contravention of the NPCSC’s interpretation,” Cheng said in the writ, adding that when assuming office lawmakers must swear allegiance to Hong Kong as part of China.

He also asks the court to examine the decision by Legco president Andrew Leung Kwan-yuen to allow Lau and Yiu to retake their oaths on October 18 and questions the validation of another six lawmakers’ oaths by secretary general Kenneth Chen Wei-on the week before. Leung declined to comment on the matter.

All the lawmakers named in the writ defended their oaths as valid and dismissed the legal challenge as political oppression.

Eddie Chu, who uttered the words “democratic self-determination” at the end of his oath, remained undeterred.

“The mandate and the votes I got in the election are the foundation of my [role] as a legislator. I’ll continue with my political causes,” he said.

Shiu, who hit a tambourine after he was sworn in, called on supporters to stay united amid a “chilling season” of oppression.

Additional reporting by Chris Lau and Kinling Lo