Basic Law

‘Sworn in Hong Kong lawmakers with insincere conduct in first oath may also face judicial review’

Think tank vice-chairman says this may follow Beijing’s interpretation of Basic Law, and is likely, given the public indignation over localists’ antics

PUBLISHED : Monday, 07 November, 2016, 11:22am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 30 November, 2016, 10:59am

Other Legislative Council lawmakers with “insincere conduct” during their first oath-taking session may also face judicial reviews after Beijing’s interpretation of the Basic Law, a member of the mainland’s semi-official think tank says.

Professor Lau Siu-kai, vice-chairman of the Chinese Association of Hong Kong and Macau Studies, did not give any names, but he cited that questionable behaviour included reading the oath in an extremely slow manner – a move made by Democracy Groundwork’s Lau Siu-lai, who took long pauses between each word in her first oath.

She was sworn in last week after taking the oath a second time.

Interpretation of Basic Law ‘a way for Beijing to undermine power of Hong Kong’s judiciary, Legco’

Lau Siu-kai said the current Hong Kong law on oath-taking was unclear, and the ruling by the National People’s Congress Standing Committee was necessary to define the process of oath-taking, the consequences of violation, and to establish the authority of the administrator of the oath.

He added that the move would not just target two localist lawmaker-elects in question – Youngspiration’s Sixtus Baggio Leung Chung-hang and Yau Wai-ching – it would also prevent the advocacy of independence in Legco.

“After the interpretation, there may be other people who will raise judicial reviews to the courts to challenge these seats [of other lawmakers] in future,” Lau said Monday morning after a meeting with Zhang Xiaoming, director of the central government’s liaison office.

“It depends on how many people are willing to raise the judicial review, but someone is likely to do it based on the public’s indignation.”

It depends on how many people are willing to raise the judicial review, but someone is likely to do it based on the public’s indignation
Professor Lau Siu-kai, Chinese Association of Hong Kong and Macau Studies

Commenting on the Sunday rally against Beijing’s review of the Basic Law, Lau said Zhang expressed that the mainland “already had mental preparation”about such objections, “but it will not affect the decision on what must be done”.

During their oath-taking on October 12, Leung and Yau pledged allegiance to “the Hong Kong nation” and pronounced China as “Chee-na”, a variation of the derogatory Shina used by Japan during the second world war. They also displayed a banner with the words “Hong Kong is not China”.

Bar ­Association chairwoman Winnie Tam Wan-chi SC said Beijing’s interpretation of the Basic Law at this time brought no benefits to Hong Kong.

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“Interpretation doesn’t mean all problems will be solved immediately. People you don’t want to see won’t disappear, and normal operations in Legco won’t resume instantly,” Tam told Commercial Radio on Monday morning.

But she added that if the interpretation – noted by some observers as being overly detailed – could clarify the application of Basic Law in Hong Kong, it should not be seen as bad thing. However, other factors could affect the final outcome too.

“Timing and motives behind [Beijing’s decision] will decide whether the interpretation will bring positive or negative impacts. An interpretation now would definitely bring negative impact,” she said.

The Standing Committee’s move coincided with the High Court’s hearing of the judicial review sought by the Hong Kong government to bar the Youngspiration duo from taking up their seats in Legco.

Tam questioned why the court wasn’t allowed to make a judgement first before the interpretation.