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Legislative Council of Hong Kong

Did CY Leung mess up his own oath? Legal challenge over Hong Kong leader’s 2012 swearing in

Writ claims he omitted ‘Hong Kong’ and that three pro-Bejing lawmakers last month botched theirs too, including one sounding like she said ‘sour oath’

PUBLISHED : Friday, 11 November, 2016, 1:50pm
UPDATED : Wednesday, 30 November, 2016, 10:59am

A retired civil servant with a history of launching legal challenges against the local government is taking aim at Hong Kong’s leader and three pro-establishment lawmakers in the latest twist in an oath saga that prompted Beijing to interpret the city’s mini-constitution.

In a writ filed on Friday, Kwok Cheuk-kin asked the High Court to declare Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying’s 2012 oath invalid when he was sworn in as the city’s leader after securing 689 votes from a 1,200-strong election committee. Kwok cited media reports that Leung and three lawmakers who were sworn in last month had skipped and mispronounced words during their oaths.

Watch: Leung Chun-ying’s 2012 oath

He urged the court to declare the October 12 oaths of pro-establishment lawmakers Ann Chiang Lai-wan, Abraham Razack and Wong Ting-kwong invalid.

The development follows an unprecedented judicial challenge mounted last month by Leung and Secretary for Justice Rimsky Yuen Kwok-keung against two democratically-elected localist lawmakers, Sixtus Baggio Leung Chung-hang and Yau Wai-ching. The pair sparked uproar when they pronounced the country in a manner deemed as an insult to China during their Legco swearing-in ceremony on October 12. Yau also unfurled a banner bearing the words “Hong Kong is not China”.

Beijing officials’ remarks on ‘insincere oaths’ not laws but a ‘persuasive explanation’, Maria Tam says

The episode prompted the Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress to issue an interpretation of Basic Law Article 104 on Monday ahead of a court ruling on the administration’s challenge.

The interpretation stated lawmakers must be “sincere” in taking their oaths of office and that those who do not comply face instant disqualification. Kwok argued the ruling cast new light on all the city’s swearing-in ceremonies for public office, including that of the chief executive in 2012.

If they killed eight, we would get four of them in revenge, one of whom would be Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying
Kwok Cheuk-kin

Kwok, a resident of Cheung Chau, is currently not represented by lawyers and is to apply for legal aid.

Separately, a veteran taxi driver closely tied to opposing the Occupy movement of 2014 filed a judicial review against eight pan-democratic lawmakers including Nathan Law Kwun-chung, Lau Siu-lai and “Long Hair” Leung Kwok-hung on Wednesday. Two more lawsuits were filed by a tertiary student, bringing the number of pan-democratic lawmakers caught up in oath-related legal actions to 10.

Kwok’s writ did not detail the grounds for his invalidation challenge, but local media reported the chief executive omitted the words “Hong Kong” when he recited his oath in 2012.

Local media also reported that Wong likewise skipped the words “Hong Kong” in his recent Legco oath, while Razack replaced the world “administrative” with “administration” during his ceremony.

Disqualify Legco pair regardless of Beijing’s ruling, Hong Kong government lawyers argue

Chiang, who took her oath in Putonghua, drew criticism for her pronunciation and intonation, with “nation” sounding like “fruit” and the phrase “taking oath” sounding like “sour oath”.

Speaking outside court, Kwok said he wanted the court to find against the pro-establishment lawmakers just as others had sought to punish the pan-democratic camp.

Watch: Hong Kong protest after Beijing’s ruling

“If they killed eight, we would get four of them in revenge, one of whom would be the leader, Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying,” he said.

Wong, representing the import and export sector, said he would not comment on pending legal proceedings.

But the lawmaker stated he would face the matter head-on.

Never too old to fight the system: retired civil servant battles Hong Kong government with judicial reviews

“It was a mistake, regardless of whether it was intended or not,” Wong said of his oath omission last month that triggered Kwok’s claim. “I will accept responsibility [for the mistake],” he added.

Chiang said her Putonghua had been accurate and that she had taken the oath solemnly. “I don’t see why [my oath] was said to be invalid,” she said, dismissing Kwok’s challenge as politically motivated.

Razack said he failed to see the words of his oath clearly due to his long-sightedness. He also defended his version as solemn and sincere.