Hong Kong localist lawmakers remain defiant over Beijing Basic Law ruling
Lau Siu-lai, Eddie Chu and Nathan Law pledge to stay true to their election platforms and vow to discuss self-determination in the Legislative Council
Three advocates of Hong Kong self-determination who have been sworn in as lawmakers say they are undeterred by Beijing’s latest ruling, vowing to stay true to their election platforms and discuss the issue in the Legislative Council.
Among them, Lau Siu-lai, widely seen as the next target for disqualification, said she would seek legal advice to fight to keep her seat.
Speaking about the National People’s Congress Standing Committee ruling on oath-taking, Lau, a lecturer, said: “It’s not my own concern [about losing my seat] now. The whole society should be worried.”
Watch: Hong Kong leader backs Basic Law ruling
“I believe not just me, but also several other lawmakers, may become embroiled.”
The mainland’s top legislative panel ruled on Monday morning that lawmakers must take the oath “sincerely and solemnly”, and must “accurately, completely and solemnly” read it out as prescribed. Failure to do so and failure to show sincerity will lead to disqualification.
The interpretation bars Youngspiration members Sixtus Baggio Leung Chung-hang and Yau Wai-ching from entering Legco.
Lau, in her first oath-taking, paused six seconds between every word of the oath. She later explained on Facebook that she was trying to nullify the oath as meaningless sentences.
Delivering the ruling, Basic Law Committee chairman Li Fei said if an oath-taker engaged in conduct in breach of the oath, he or she would bear legal responsibility. He said advocates for “national self-determination” were essentially calling for independence.
Another Legco member, Eddie Chu Hoi-dick, who grabbed the greatest number of votes in the geographical constituencies, said he and others would definitely continue to advocate “democratic self-determination” in Legco “because these four [Chinese words] were written on our platforms and we were sent to Legco by more than 100,000 voters.”
Former student leader and Occupy activist Nathan Law Kwun-chung, who ran on a similar platform, said Beijing was manipulating the Basic Law to suit its political needs.
“Today they say you are not solemn and disqualify you. Will they one day disqualify you because you call for vindication of the June 4 verdict when you take the oath?” he said, referring to the slogan pan-democrats have used when they mourn the 1989 Tiananmen crackdown in Beijing.
Meanwhile, several Labour Party leaders gathered in front of Beijing’s liaison office to protest against the interpretation.
Cyd Ho Sau-lan, the party’s vice-chairwoman, said the interpretation set a precedent for future justifications to disqualify and prosecute dissenting legislators.
“This interpretation has thoroughly destroyed our election system. Through requiring legislators to sincerely embrace the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region and the Basic Law, [Beijing] can screen out candidates and bar people from entering Legco,” she said
Former Legco member Lee Cheuk-yan said the use of the words “sincerely embrace the Basic Law” was too subjective and therefore allowed Beijing to interpret the level of sincerity in any way it wanted.
“We used to be able to elect our own legislators. But now they can disqualify people by saying that legislators who are voted in by the public do not sincerely embrace the Basic Law,” he said, “It basically prevents us from making any suggestions about amending the Basic Law.”
He said with the new interpretation, Beijing could also potentially punish legislators for what they had done in the past.
“While the previous interpretations deprived us of our future, this interpretation deprives us of our past,” he said. “In the past we had the freedom of speech to call for the end of one-party rule. But will this be considered as not honouring or embracing the Basic Law?”
Lee said no one knew “the extent of how the interpretation would be used” and “how many incumbent Legco members could eventually be implicated by this verdict.”