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Hong Kong localism and independence

National People’s Congress might step in to interpret Basic Law if oath-taking case ends up in Court of Final Appeal, scholar warns

Think tank vice-chairman Professor Lau Siu-kai says Legco president reversed decision to let two lawmakers swear in again to avoid offending Beijing

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 26 October, 2016, 12:07pm
UPDATED : Wednesday, 30 November, 2016, 11:00am

The National People’s Congress might eventually have to interpret the Basic Law if the case involving the swearing in of two localist lawmakers ended up in the Court of Final Appeal, a Hong Kong academic warned.

Professor Lau Siu-kai, vice-chairman of the semi-official Chinese Association of Hong Kong and Macau Studies, also said on Wednesday that the new Legislative Council president would offend Beijing if he let duo retake their oaths.

The scholar’s comments came after Legco president Andrew Leung Kwan-yuen decided on Tuesday to delay the swearing-in of the two localists, making a de facto U-turn on his earlier plan for the two to take a fresh oath.

But the pair – Youngspiration’s Sixtus Baggio Leung Chung-hang and Yau Wai-ching – have vowed to force their way into the meeting nonetheless.

During their first oath-taking on October 12, the duo pledged loyalty to “the Hong Kong nation” and pronounced China as “Chee-na”, similar to the derogatory “Shina” used by Japan during the second world war.

Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying then mounted a court challenge to ban the duo from retaking their vows. Andrew Leung said administration of the oaths for the pair would be deferred until the Court of First Instance had ruled on the judicial review. The hearing is set for November 3.

Speaking on a RTHK programme on Wednesday morning, Lau said that the Legco president’s reversal was a “painful” decision made to strike a balance between the demands of the pro-establishment camp and the opposition forces, and “deliver the least harm”.

Pro-establishment lawmakers have threatened to walk out again on Wednesday to protest any move to allow the pair to swear in.

“If he did not change the decision, he would offend Beijing, the SAR government, all pro-establishment lawmakers and the public will,” Lau said.

The scholar said he did not rule out the possibility that Beijing would come forward if the situation escalated to an extent that posed a threat to national security.

“The SAR government would definitely appeal to a higher court if it lost the judicial review in the Court of First Instance.”

“There is no question that the government will ask the court to request an interpretation of the Basic Law by the National People’s Congress Standing Committee by then,” he added.