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Legislative Council

Walkout by Hong Kong lawmakers inflicts ‘collateral damage’ on localist member

Lau Siu-lai denied chance to retake oath as pro-establishment camp targets two radicals ahead of her on list to be sworn in

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 19 October, 2016, 8:34pm
UPDATED : Wednesday, 19 October, 2016, 11:40pm

As the political storm raged in the Legislative Council on Wednesday, one localist lawmaker suffered collateral damage from the pro-establishment camp’s walkout simply because of her surname.

Democracy Groundwork’s Lau Siu-lai was due to be sworn in after the Youngspiration duo at the centre of the oath-taking controversy.

Lau was placed behind Sixtus Baggio Leung Chung-hang and Yau Wai-ching to retake their pledge because under Legco rules newcomers are sworn in according to the number of strokes in the Chinese character of their first name. Those with fewer strokes go first.

But before Leung and Yau could be sworn in, there was a call for a quorum count and pro-government legislators walked out, forcing an end to proceedings.

“I felt the pro-establishment camp’s action was very shameful,” Lau said. “They used a procedural measure to obstruct democratically elected lawmakers from carrying out their duties. This is absolutely barbaric.”

Lau, an advocate of self-determination for Hong Kong who won 38,183 votes in the Kowloon West constituency, added: “The pro-establishment camp is also disrespecting my voters by not allowing me to take the oath.”

At the Legco meeting last week it took the sociology lecturer 13 minutes to read out her pledge because she took long pauses between each word.

I was planning to retake the oath in the most ordinary manner possible because I have already expressed my views last week
Lau Siu-lai, Democracy Groundwork

Legco secretary general Kenneth Chen Wei-on validated Lau’s oath, but on Tuesday Legco president Andrew Leung Kwan-yuen ruled that the she needed to be sworn in again.

The manner in which Lau took the oath, Leung explained, “has shown that she was not serious about the affirmation and had no intention to be bound by it”.

Lau said: “I was planning to retake the oath in the most ordinary manner possible because I have already expressed my views last week.

“Since some people couldn’t understand my [oath] last time, I was going to use a way that could get through to them.”

Lau said she had asked the Legco president to allow her to retake the oath next week.

But the localist legislator was still seeking legal advice on what she could do if lawmakers stage another walkout, preventing her from assuming office.

“It seems that I must retake the oath during the council meeting, so we are still coming up with a plan,” she said.