Legislative Council elections 2016

Hong Kong Legislative Council president seeks legal advice over oath-taking

Andrew Leung will preside over the retaking of oaths by two Youngspiration members, whose initial wording was condemned by Beijing’s liaison office

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 15 October, 2016, 7:32pm
UPDATED : Wednesday, 30 November, 2016, 11:01am

The new Legislative Council president says he will consult senior counsel as well as the in-house lawyer in deciding whether two localist lawmakers are properly sworn in at the next meeting.

Andrew Leung Kwan-yuen said he was fully aware of the sensitivity of the issue, as colleagues and society continued to debate the legality and propriety of the oaths taken by the Youngspiration members at Legco’s inaugural meeting on Wednesday.

The pro-Beijing stalwart said on Saturday he would handle the retaking of the oath with care.

“I have already asked the secretariat to hire a senior counsel so in addition to the in-house lawyer I’ll have two legal opinions,” Leung told a radio show. “I’ll definitely follow the law in my ruling.”

Yau Wai-ching and Sixtus “Baggio” Leung Chung-hang will take their oaths again on Wednesday.

Watch: three Hong Kong lawmakers have oaths rejected

At the inaugural meeting last week, the duo first pledged allegiance to “the Hong Kong nation” in English. When Legco secretary general Kenneth Chen Wei-on asked them not to modify the script, they displayed blue banners bearing the words “Hong Kong is not China”, and pronounced China as “Chee-na”, a variation of the derogatory “Shina” used by Japan during the second world war.

But Chen, who invalidated their oaths before the president was elected, has not explained which of the words and actions made him arrive at his decision. Critics have accused him of acting outside his power.

Beijing’s liaison office in the city has expressed “condemnation” over the two lawmakers’ “despicable words and actions”.

Meanwhile, Leung is facing a challenge over his presidency because he revealed the document showing he had given up his British nationality only on the day of the election.

The president is required to be a Chinese national and Hong Kong permanent resident with no right of abode in any foreign country. But the industrial-sector lawmaker only applied to give up his British nationality on September 22 and he had not received the “declaration of renunciation” from the UK Home Office when he submitted his bid for the post.

He received the document only during the election proceedings on Wednesday, when the democratic camp called for the poll to be postponed in the absence of proof on his nationality.

Leung explained on Saturday that if he suddenly gave up his citizenship before the Legislative Council election on September 4, “people might say I am scheming for the presidency”.

“Indeed the time was tight and not many people might agree with the way I did it ... but I have no regrets and I did no wrong to Hongkongers,” he said.