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Legislative Council elections 2016

Hong Kong’s coughing, yelling lawmakers don’t stick to the script

Members of sixth Legco who modified oath of office on Wednesday are just latest in line of legislators dealing in slogans and theatrics

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 12 October, 2016, 12:21pm
UPDATED : Wednesday, 12 October, 2016, 11:26pm

Marking the start of the sixth Legislative Council, all 70 lawmakers were sworn in on Wednesday. However, as some had promised, a few legislators created their own versions of their oath of office.

This is not the first time legislators have reworded the oath to work in their causes or activism. Before Wednesday, only one had ever been asked to swear the oath again.

In 2012, former pan-democrat legislator Wong Yuk-man seemed to have a coughing fit over key words of the oath.

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“I swear that, being a member of the Legislative Council of Hong Kong [cough], of the People [cough] of China, I will uphold the Basic Law of Hong Kong [cough], of the People [cough] of China,” he said.

Following the oath, Wong insisted he had taken it correctly.

“Of course I finished it,” he said. “Sometimes you will cough while you are reading ... I have already pledged my allegiance to the people.”

However, former Legco president Jasper Tsang Yok-sing did not agree, and asked Wong to take the oath again the following week. It was the first time a legislator had been asked to retake the oath.

Wong obliged, but said parts of the oath at different volumes. For example, in the Cantonese phrase “yan man gung wo gwok”, which means “People’s Republic”, he read out some words in an unusually loud voice while pronouncing the others in a hushed tone.

Former People Power lawmaker Albert Chan Wai-yip carried a portrait of Dr Sun Yat-sen – who led the revolution to end the imperial dynasty and usher in a republic for China – during his swearing in.

Chan deliberately lowered his voice when saying the word “republic” when he pledged allegiance to the “Hong Kong Special Administrative Region of the People’s Republic of China”.

Some lawmakers resorted to theatrics and slogans before or after the swearing in.

Before taking his oath in the fifth legislature, People Power legislator Raymond Chan Chi-chuen said: “The revolution has not yet succeeded, comrades still need to work harder.”

These were Sun’s dying instructions.

For his previous term, radical lawmaker “Long Hair” Leung Kwok-hung, of the League of Social Democrats, started his oath by shouting: “I want genuine universal suffrage; I don’t want Article 23 [national security legislation].”

He repeated the slogans afterwards.