Legislative Council elections 2016

As it happened: Andrew Leung elected Legco president 38-0 over pan-dems’ objections in dramatic ending to raucous day

Pan-democrats tear up ballots and storm out of chamber at contentious meeting in which the pro-Beijing candidate produced a letter confirming he renounced his British nationality

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 12 October, 2016, 10:45am
UPDATED : Thursday, 13 October, 2016, 9:50am

Key points:

> Two localist lawmakers who pledged loyalty to “the Hong Kong nation” and a third who inserted words into his oath had their oaths rejected, while four localist legislators either inserted their own remarks before or after their oaths as the city’s 70 lawmakers were sworn in at the first meeting of the new Legislative Council term

> Pan-democrats and localists sought to defer the Legco presidential election for a week over a controversy surrounding the British nationality of Andrew Leung Kwan-yuen, the pro-Beijing camp’s choice to lead the body. But Leung prevailed 38-0 after his ally Abraham Razack assumed the chairmanship of the election proceedings and called for a vote. Almost all the pan-democrats tore up their ballots and stormed out

Three rejections and four deviations mark Hong Kong Legislative Council swearing-in

Watch: three Hong Kong lawmakers have oaths rejected

5.37pm – Andrew Leung wins Legco presidency over pan-democrats’ objections

Andrew Leung Kwan-yuen won the Legco presidency with 38 votes against Democratic Party lawmaker James To Kun-sun, who received none. There were three blank votes.

Andrew Leung becomes president of Hong Kong Legco after dispute over British nationality

New Legco presidential election chairman Abraham Razack began counting the votes as most of the pan-democrats in the chamber tore up their ballot papers and stormed out of the meeting room over their objections to Leung’s nationality situation.

I am accepting your support with a heavy heart ... You have seen today what our Legco has become
Andrew Leung, after winning the presidency

Democratic Party lawmaker Ted Hui Chi-fung was held back by security guards just behind Razack. Hui and Roy Kwong Chun-yiu were the only pan-democratic legislators in the room after the mass exodus.

While the vote was conducted, Youngspiration’s Yau Wai-ching and Sixtus “Baggio” Leung Chung-hang were barred from entering the room over their oaths. The council had relocated to the smaller room after “Long Hair” Leung Kwok-hung occupied the chairman’s seat in the main chamber.

The two localist lawmakers were stuck in a corridor alongside a dozen reporters and cameramen outside the room for half an hour, unable to get in and not willing to leave.

After winning the hotly disputed vote, Andrew Leung took the chairman’s seat.

“I am accepting your support with a heavy heart,” an embattled Leung said. “You have seen today what our Legco has become .. I hope to work for the well-being of Hong Kong in the next four years.”

He adjourned the meeting to next week.

4.25pm – Chairman of Legco presidential election quits proceedings

In another twist, pan-democrat Leung Yiu-chung, who has chaired the Legco presidential election proceedings, excused himself from the meeting.

I have made arrangements for Andrew Leung Kwan-yuen to explain his nationality issue to the press, but there are still many doubts
Leung Yiu-chung, former chairman of Legco presidential election

“I have made arrangements for Andrew Leung Kwan-yuen to explain his nationality issue to the press, but there are still many doubts,” he said. “The Legco rules do not allow us to have legal advice at this stage. Because I have no chance to clarify even the doubts in my mind, I hereby announce that I will not take charge of the proceedings any more. I will leave the chamber.”

His announcement came as some pan-democrats continued to press Andrew Leung over his eligibility, arguing that renouncing one’s nationality was “not equal to renunciation of the right of abode”, which was required of a Legco president under the Basic Law.

The third-ranking lawmaker, real-estate sector representative Abraham Razack, assumed chairmanship of the proceedings.

But just as he was walking towards the chairman’s seat, “Long Hair” Leung Kwok-hung dashed out to take his place. Razack adjourned the meeting for 10 minutes.

3.45pm – A dramatic twist

Pro-Beijing lawmaker and favourite to win the Legco presidency Andrew Leung Kwan-yuen returned to the chamber after not returning to his seat since the Legislative Council resumed after lunch. He announced: “My document has arrived and it’s now in the antechamber. Colleagues can take a look.”

In a dramatic twist, he presented a stamped certificate from the UK Home Office confirming he had renounced his British nationality.

Leung opened the letter in front of the press.

3.15pm – Rule of law raised

Civic Party lawmaker Alvin Yeung Ngok-kiu said it was necessary to defer the meeting for a week over a controversy surrounding the British nationality of Andrew Leung Kwan-yuen.

“The pro-establishment camp kept saying we were disrespectful of the rule of law during Occupy,” he said, referring to the pro-democracy movement of 2014. “Take a look what they are doing now. They are endorsing someone whose legal status remains equivocal.”

2.40pm – A request for postponed voting

The Legco meeting resumes, but some pan-democratic lawmakers ask that the Legco presidential election be postponed.

Civic Party lawmaker Claudia Mo Man-ching is among them. “I myself also have a declaration of renunciation [of British nationality],” she said. “Shouldn’t we wait until Leung has the declaration at hand?”

Leung told reporters he has not received such a document from the UK Home Office, although the authority has confirmed his renunciation had been registered.

Democratic Party lawmaker Andrew Wan Siu-kin said if Leung became president, “a constitutional crisis would be triggered”.

Nathan Law Kwun-chung added his voice to those objecting to a vote. “Even when I ran for the student union presidency, I needed to show my student card. How can he get elected like that?”

Starry Lee Wai-king, chairwoman of the pro-establishment Democratic Alliance for the Betterment and Progress of Hong Kong, said it was understandable that colleagues wanted to see the true document. But she said she was convinced Leung was eligible for the presidency after reading the Home Office’s letters.

But pan-democrat Leung Yiu-chung, who chaired the proceedings of the election, said he was bound by the Legco rules to administer the election only, and he could not rule on the eligibility of the candidates. Leung asked his colleagues to deal with the issue “through other channels”.

2.20pm – More questions about British nationality

Pan-democratic lawmaker Leung Yiu-chung, the second most senior lawmaker and chair of the Legco presidential election proceedings, suggests Andrew Leung Kwan-yuen answer questions about his nationality.

“I understand that colleagues have questions about Councillor Leung’s nationality,” he said. “According to the rules and procedures, no questions will be asked during the election.

I understand that colleagues have questions about Councillor Leung’s nationality
Leung Yiu-chung, on Andrew Leung Kwan-yuen

“So I suggest Councillor Leung go out to take questions from the press. Colleagues who are concerned can go out and listen if they wish.”

As Leung met the press, Chu grilled him, demanding the Business and Professionals Alliance lawmaker release all the documents relating to his renunciation after Legco’s presidential election.

Democratic Party lawmakers Helena Wong Pik-wan and Lam Cheuk-ting and accountancy sector lawmaker Kenneth Leung also asked for details about the UK Home Office letters he showed to legislators this morning.

1.46pm – ‘Last chance’ to ask

Before the Legco meeting resumed, Eddie Chu Hoi-dick remained on the stage, demanding Andrew Leung Kwan-yuen produce a “certificate of renunciation” of his British nationality, instead of just two cover letters from the UK Home Office informing Leung that the certificate had been registered.

“I won’t leave here until Leung shows it,” Chu said. “Because this is the last chance we can ask him to come clean.”

Chu was flanked by “Long Hair” Leung Kwok-hung, Lau Siu-lai, Claudia Mo Man-ching, Nathan Law Kwun-chung and Fernando Cheung Chiu-hung.

For 30 minutes, Chu spoke without interruption, and Andrew Leung Kwan-yuen remained silent in his seat, then left the chamber as Chu finished.

The Legco secretariat has been soliciting legal advice as to the validity of the oaths of the three lawmakers Edward Yiu Chung-yim, Sixtus “Baggio” Leung Chung-hang and Yau Wai-ching.

12.40pm – ‘It’s my Ap Lei Chau accent’

The two Youngspiration legislators defended their pronunciation of China as “Chee-na”.

“It’s my Ap Lei Chau accent,” Sixtus “Baggio” Leung Chun-hang said, referring to an island south of Hong Kong Island.

The localist also stressed he had done nothing wrong by carrying a banner reading “Hong Kong is not China” while reading his oath.

“What I wear is none of [Legco secretary general Kenneth Chen’s] business,” he said.

12.33pm – The pro-Beijing camp’s take

As the oath-taking ceremony concluded, pro-Beijing legislators condemned several localist legislators for departing from the official language of the swearing-in process.

Lawmaker and Democratic Alliance for the Betterment and Progress of Hong Kong’s chairwoman Starry Lee Wai-king said the party would seek legal advice on whether any follow-up action could be pursued against those who altered their oath.

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Business and Professionals Alliance legislator Priscilla Leung Mei-fun said Legco secretary general Kenneth Chen Wei-on had been tolerant.

Referring to the two Youngspiration legislators who pronounced China as ‘chee-na’, Leung said: “I hope when they take their oath again, they will not pronounce China in a way that insults Chinese. We cannot accept this.”

12.30pm – Nathan Law raises questions

Nathan Law Kwun-chung made a short speech preceding his oath. “The word ‘affirmation’ originates from Latin, meaning ‘making it stronger’,” the former Occupy movement student leader said in his preamble. “But the sacred ritual of oath-taking today has been reduced to a tool by the regime to suppress people.”

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“You can chain me, you can torture me, you can even destroy this body, but you will never imprison my mind,” he said.

I uphold… the People’s Republic of China? I swear allegiance to… the People’s Republic of China?
Nathan Law Kwun-chung, during his oath

As he proceeded with his oath and came to the word “republic”, he changed the intonation of his voice, as if asking a question. “I uphold… the People’s Republic of China? I swear allegiance to… the People’s Republic of China?”

The youngest lawmaker of the newly convened body then asked Legco secretary general Kenneth Chen Wei-on why he was qualified to reject three localists’ oaths, referring to Edward Yiu Chung-yim, Sixtus “Baggio” Leung Chung-hang and Yau Wai-ching.

“Which Legco rule says you have the power to stop them joining the presidential election?” Law asked. Lawmakers whose oaths are rejected are ineligible to vote for Legco president.

Chen asked him to return to his seat, and Law’s allies Eddie Chu Hoi-dick and Lau Siu-lai called out to support Law. They raised again the nationality issue of Andrew Leung Kwan-yuen, who is poised to be the president.

Chen called for a break.

12.25pm – Another call for universal suffrage

Democratic Party lawmaker Roy Kwong Chun-yu said at his swearing in: “Hong Kong is the home ground of Hongkongers. Let’s not forget how we began. I want genuine universal suffrage! Go for it Hongkongers!”

12.24pm – A localist explains his motives

Civic Passion lawmaker Cheng Chung-tai delivered a speech at the beginning of his oath explaining why he would take his oath properly.

I don’t think the way I take the oath today would amount to any effective resistance
Cheng Chun-tai, before his oath

“In the past few years, our protest for the future of Hong Kong has led us to the streets for 79 days,” he said, referring to the Occupy movement of 2014. “Some youngsters even gave up their future on the first day of the Lunar New Year for Hong Kong,” he said, referring to the Mong Kong riot earlier this year.

“I don’t think the way I take the oath today would amount to any effective resistance,” he said. “I believe everyone will understand.”

The localist legislator then read the oath out in full, and, at the end stated: “Rewrite the constitution by the people… Long live Hong Kong.”

12.12pm – Youngspiration lawmakers’ oaths rejected

Legco secretary general Kenneth Chen Wei-on rejected the oath by two Youngspiration lawmakers as they wore or presented attire bearing the words: “Hong Kong is not China”.

Sixtus “Baggio” Leung Chung-hang and Yau Wai-ching began their oaths by swearing allegiance to a “Hong Kong nation” and staing they would “preserve, protect and defend” their fellow Hongkongers.

When they read out the official portion of the oath, they pronounced China as ‘chee-na’, the derogatory pronunciation used during Japanese occupation of the city.

When Chen interrupted Leung to call his attention to his improper oath, Leung waved his hand and said he had not finished.

After Leung and Yau finished, Chen said he would be unable to attest to their oaths, citing the slogan “Hong Kong is not China”.

“Your display gives me reason to doubt whether you understand your duties as lawmakers,” Chen said.

Yau Wai-ching’s exchange with Legco secretary general Kenneth Chen Wei-on

Youngspiration’s Yau Wai-ching was heard mispronouncing the phrase “People’s Republic of China” three times during her oath.

Yau Wai-ching: “I, Yau Wai-ching, do solemnly swear that I will be faithful and bear true allegiance to the Hong Kong nation, and will to the best of my ability preserve protect and defend the fellows of Hong Kong.”

I will uphold the basic law of the Hong Kong special administrative region of the people’s re- f****** of Chee-na
Yau Wai-ching, during her oath

Chen: “Councillor Yau Wai-ching, you changed the wording of the oath. I cannot oversee the oath-taking for you, please take the oath again according to the wordings stated in the law.”

Yau: “I understand. You don’t need to repeat”, she said as she draped a banner bearing the phrase “Hong Kong is not China” on the table before her.

Yau: “I (more loudly than before), Yau Wai-ching, solemnly, sincerely and truly declare that and affirm that being a member of the Legislative Council of the Hong Kong special administrative region of the people’s re-f****** of chee-na, I will uphold the basic law of the Hong Kong special administrative region of the people’s re- f****** of chee-na, bear allegiance to the Hong Kong special administrative region of the people’s re- f****** of chee-na, and serve the Hong Kong special administrative region conscientiously, dutifully and in full accordance with the law honestly and with integrity.”

Chen: “Councillor Yau, your display gives me reason to doubt whether you understand your duties. I don’t have the power to oversee your oath-taking.”

11.59am – How slow can you go?

New lawmaker localist Lau Siu-lai added a 40-second opening remark before taking her oath with extreme slowness, promising that she would carry on with “the spirit of the umbrella movement [of 2014], which is to determine our own fate”.

We must live in truth and integrity, and break the coldness and timidity of our society
Lau Siu-lai, during her oath

“I will walk with Hongkongers, link up the inside and the outside of the legislature, and resist the autocratic regime,” she said. “We must live in truth and integrity, and break the coldness and timidity of our society. We must also seek hope in the dark, and open the path of democratic self-determination. We must topple the high wall, and determine for ourselves and strengthen ourselves.”

Lau spent eight minutes delivering her oath, pausing five to seven seconds between every word.

As she dragged on, pro-Beijing lawmaker Junius Ho Kwan-yiu called out, describing her approach as “stupid”.

When Lau finally finished and went on to vow to protect retirement, the secretary general cut her off and called on the next councillor for oath-taking.

11.55am – First oath rejected

Non-affiliated lawmaker Edward Yiu Chung-yim, representing the architectural, surveying, planning and landscape sector, is the first to have his oath rejected by Legco’s secretary general Kenneth Chen Wai-on.

After stating “being a member of the Legislative Council of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region of the People’s Republic of China”, Yiu added: “I will uphold procedural justice in Hong Kong, fight for genuine universal suffrage, and serve the city’s sustainable development” before he moved on to swear to uphold the Basic Law.

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After Chen asked him to swear in again without inserting his own phrases, Yiu took his oath again, but again added his phrases at the end of the official language.

Chen then asked Yiu to return to his seat, meaning he could not take part in the Legco presidential election later in the afternoon. According to Legco rules, Yiu must takes his oath again next week.

11.55am – Echoes of Occupy

Social welfare sector lawmaker Shiu Ka-chun struck a tambourine he was carrying several times at the end of his oath. He then stated the spirit of the umbrella movement had continued.

“We are back,” Shiu said, holding up his fist. Some in the pan-democratic camp tap on their desks to show solidarity with his statement.

11.51am – Step down, CY Leung!

Democratic Party lawmaker Lam Cheuk-ting, a former ICAC investigator, said after taking his oath: “Crack down on corruption! Wolf Leung, step down!” The reference to Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying led the city’s leader to issue a legal letter against Apple Daily, saying such labels violated his constitutional right to seek re-election.

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11.47am – Eddie Chu against Andrew Leung

Independent lawmaker Eddie Chu Hoi-dick, who has been querying Legco presidential hopeful Andrew Leung Kwan-yuen’s British nationality issue, declares this after taking his oath: “Democratic self-determination! Tyranny must perish one day! Objection to Leung Kwan-yuen’s presidency!”

11.37am – Helena Wong calls for water testing

Democratic Party lawmaker Helena Wong Pik-wan, who exposed a lead-in-water scandal at local public housing estates last year, calls out after finishing her oath:

“Scrap the 8.31 [a reference to Beijing’s white paper issued on August 31, 2014, determining the framework in which the city’s chief executive was to be elected]! Down with CY Leung! Water Supplies Department must test water immediately! No delay!”

11.21am – Raymond Chan’s declaration

Before taking his oath, People Power lawmaker Raymond Chan Chi-chuen tore apart the government’s statement on oath-taking issued yesterday. He declared the government had no right to intervene in Legco’s affairs.

He then read his oath, and, before he walked away, he shouted: “I am a Hongkonger and I want genuine universal suffrage. Filibuster against evil laws; confrontation for public good. Down with Leung Chun-ying!”

11.17am – Long Hair theatrics

The first oath-taking fireworks: “Long Hair” Leung Kwok-hung, holding a yellow umbrella – a symbol of the pro-democracy Occupy movement of 2014 – shouts, “Civil disobedience! People determine their own future! We need no approval from Chinese Communist Party!”

He reads out the oath word for word, only splitting the phrases up so that he swore allegiance to “Hong Kong... SAR” and to “the People....’s Republic of China”.

At the end of the oath he chants: “Scrap NPC 8.31! I want double universal suffrage,” referring to the stringent reform framework decreed by the National People’s Congress last year. He then rips up a prop Basic Law.

11.16am – Regina Ip takes her oath

Regina Ip Lau Suk-yee was the 14th lawmaker to take an oath. She was tipped to run in the chief executive election next year, but in a recent opinion poll, she was ranked the second-most unpopular candidate – slightly more popular than the incumbent Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying.

11.10am – Doubts about favourite for Legco presidency

Newly elected lawmaker and leading vote-getter Eddie Chu Hoi-dick cast doubt over Andrew Leung Kwan-yuen’s suitability as president, citing a lack of clarity as to whether he still had the right to reside in the UK

In a letter dated October 11, the Home Office informed Leung that “the renunciation of British nationality affects a person’s right to live in the UK”.

“‘Affects’ is an unclear word,” Chu said, appearing with fellow localist lawmakers Lau Siu-lai and Nathan Law Kwun-chung. “We will raise questions on this point and we hope our questioning will not be stopped.”

11.05am – Veteran lawmakers sworn in

The five most senior lawmakers took their oaths without incident: James To Kun-sun, Leung Yiu-chung, Abraham Razack, Tommy Cheung Yu-yan and Dr Joseph Lee Kok-long.

As Andrew Leung Kwan-yuen comes forward, “Long Hair” Leung Kwok-hung, holding a yellow umbrella at his seat, shouts “foreign national!”.

10.50am – A nationality renounced

Andrew Leung Kwan-yuen, the Business and Professionals Alliance lawmaker vying to be Legco president, showed fellow lawmakers documents stating he had applied to renounce his British nationality.

New People’s Party lawmaker Regina Ip Lau Suk-yee, a former security minister, said the documents were satisfactory, adding the Home Office’s certificate of his renunciation was “on the way”.

“I think Mr Leung has completed renunciation formalities,” she said. “His application for renunciation has been accepted ... and registered.”

Arriving in chambers, Leung did not comment on his nationality issue, saying only that: “I hope to have [the lawmakers’] support.”

10.15am – This member’s got wheels

Pilot-turned-lawmaker Jeremy Tam Man-ho rode in on his motor bike. The Civic Party’s new star said he rode in on two motorised wheels “not just to be cool, but also to show my determination to deal with the city’s complex transport issues with my expertise”. He is a charter member of the Chartered Institute of Logistics and Transport.

To make time for his lawmaking duties, Tam has left his pilot role and become a member of the crew management team at his company.

As the city’s 70 newly elected lawmakers swear in one by one at the sixth session of the Legislative Council from 11am today, government officials will be watching anxiously like never before.

The oath-taking ceremony is touching a nerve this year because six localists calling for Hong Kong’s self-determination were elected to the city’s legislature. Two have talked of plans to work their pro-independence calls into the wording of the official oath, which requires them to uphold the Basic Law and swear allegiance to Hong Kong as a special administrative region of China.

To avoid turning the occasion into a platform for separatist calls, the government warned yesterday that those who refused to take their oath properly could lose their seats.

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In the past, some lawmakers, like “Long Hair” Leung Kwok-hung, managed to pass muster by reading out the oath word for word while adding their own slogans before and after the oath.

After the oath-taking ceremony, the Legislative Council is to elect a new president. The candidates are Andrew Leung Kwan-yuen, a functional-constituency member who has returned to Legco four times uncontested, and the Democratic Party’s “super-seat” councillor James To Kun-sun.

Although Leung has been blasted by many including his allies for a purportedly high-handed style, he is poised to win the post due to support from the pro-establishment camp, whose members predominate the chamber.