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Legislative Council of Hong Kong

Hong Kong will have no future if pro-independence activists aren’t stopped, pro-Beijing heavyweight Rita Fan says

City’s sole representative on NPC standing committee says Beijing’s intervention in oath-taking saga was ‘urgently’ needed, contradicting her earlier comments on issue

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 23 November, 2016, 9:13am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 23 November, 2016, 9:25am

Pro-Beijing heavyweight Rita Fan Hsu Lai-tai, who a month ago dismissed any need for the national parliament to intervene in the city’s oath-taking saga, has changed her tune, saying instead that such intervention was “urgently” needed to stop the rising calls for independence in Hong Kong.

Fan broke her silence and waded into the debate for the first time since the National People’s Congress Standing Committee’s interpretation of the Basic Law this month as government information coordinator Andrew Fung Wai-kwong criticised some pro-independence activists for purposefully misinterpreting the Basic Law when they claimed Hong Kong could choose to separate from China 50 years after 1997.

Fung wrote in a column in Tuesday’s edition of the Chinese-language Metro Daily: “[The year] 2047 is the expiry date for Hong Kong’s capitalist system. There is no expiry date for Hong Kong being an inalienable part of China.”

Fung later clarified to the media that he had meant to say the city’s “previous capitalist system and way of life shall remain unchanged for 50 years”, as stated in Article 5 of the Basic Law.

Meanwhile, Fan, Hong Kong’s sole representative on the National People’s Congress Standing Committee, also said there was no question of Hong Kong becoming independent, adding that the city “would have no future” if the pro-independence activists were not stopped.

She defended the interpretation that effectively disqualified Youngspiration localists Sixtus Baggio Leung Chung-hang and Yau Wai-ching from assuming office as legislators.

Fan said: “The standing committee was not very keen on resorting to interpretation [of the Basic Law]. But when an issue could affect the unification of the country, its territorial integrity, national security and national interest, then we could not afford any procrastination and had to deal with it decisively.”

She said the standing committee’s intervention was the only “realistic” means to help the Legislative Council resume its normal business.

“God knows what else the duo and their supporters in the opposition camp will do in the legislature,” Fan said, referring to the chaos in the Legco chamber when the duo defied orders by the Legco president and forced their way into the chamber in an attempt to take the oath on their own.

Fan was in Europe and did not take part in the standing committee meeting earlier this month over the interpretation of Article 104 of the Basic Law, which touches on oath-taking by major public office holders, including the chief executive and lawmakers, when assuming office.

It was Beijing’s fifth interpretation of the Basic Law since the 1997 handover.

Late last month, Fan said there was no need for the national parliament to interpret the Basic Law over the oath-taking saga, which saw Baggio Leung and Yau declaring allegiance to “the Hong Kong nation” and pronouncing China as “Chee-na”, which sounded like the derogatory “Shina” used by Japanese during wartime.

In a bid to block the pro-independence pair from becoming legislators, the government took the case to court last month. Before the judge came up with a ruling, the interpretation was made, marking the first time Beijing had pre-empted Hong Kong courts over a case for which an initial hearing had been held.