Disqualified Legco duo file court appeal against their dismissal
Sixtus Baggio Leung Chung-hang and Yau Wai-ching have vowed to ‘spend every penny’ to appeal against the court’s decision and to ‘defend Hong Kong’s established systems’
The High Court ruling this week that the judiciary could intervene in the Legislative Council’s oath-taking controversy was wrong because the “non-intervention principle” applies in the city, lawyers for the two disqualified pro-independence lawmakers told the appeal court yesterday.
They argued their case to stop the pair’s removal from the council as Legco president Andrew Leung Kwan-yuen promised not to start the by-election process before the full appeal hearing is held next Thursday.
The High Court ruled on Tuesday that Youngspiration’s Sixtus Baggio Leung Chung-hang and Yau Wai-ching should be disqualified as they had “declined” to take their oaths, by pledging allegiance to the “Hong Kong nation” and insulting the country at their swearing-in ceremony on October 12.
The court judgment came a week after China’s top legislative body issued its interpretation of the city’s mini-constitution that principal officials and lawmakers must “sincerely” pledge allegiance to Hong Kong as an inalienable part of China.
Veteran Democrat Martin Lee Chu-ming SC, a drafter of the Basic Law, said the pair had given Beijing “good excuses to destroy the ‘one country, two systems’ principle”, as the interpretation suggested public officers, including judges, had to pledge allegiance to both China and Hong Kong.
Yau said on Tuesday she had written to London to complain about Beijing’s “meddling” in the former British colony’s affairs. In Beijing, Foreign Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang said it was “a serious breach of the nation’s constitution” for “separatists” to seek aid from foreign countries
Filing their notice of appeal, the pair’s lawyers asked the court to quash the High Court ruling, arguing that the judge had erred in determining that the non-intervention principle did not apply in the case. They also suggested he was wrong in ruling that the duo’s speeches were not immune from legal action, and that they had to vacate their office automatically once their oaths were invalidated.
Elsie Leung Oi-sie, a vice-chairwoman of the national legislature’s Basic Law Committee, said she concurred that the non-intervention principle did not always apply in Hong Kong.
Albert Chen Hung-yee, law professor at the University of Hong Kong, also said Baggio Leung and Yau were essentially using the same grounds for the previous judicial review in the present appeal.
An urgent hearing was held at the Court of Appeal yesterday, as their lawyers sought to apply for a stay of execution of the court orders to stop Legco from officially stripping them of their seats.
But they decided not to pursue that course of action after justices Wally Yeung Chun-kuen and Johnson Lam Man-hon said the appeal would be heard next Thursday, and Andrew Leung’s lawyer clarified that Legco would not gazette the High Court ruling before the appeal hearing.
The two localists at the centre of the storm said their legal battle was no longer only about their own seats, but for a bigger cause – Legco’s independence.
“We don’t think we should be the only ones responsible for defending the independence and rights of Legco ... the president, as part of Legco, should defend this place,” Baggio Leung said.
Andrew Leung responded that he had yet to decide whether to join the appeal bid.