Hong Kong’s disqualified localist pair will have to return HK$930,000 each, Legco president says
Andrew Leung Kwan-yuen says decision made on the basis of National People’s Congress ruling
Hong Kong’s legislature has hit two recently disqualified localist lawmakers with a bill for HK$930,000 each, forcing them to repay the salaries and costs they claimed in advance.
Legislative Council president Andrew Leung Kwan-yuen announced the move on Thursday to further penalise Youngspiration’s Sixtus Baggio Leung Chung-hang and Yau Wai-ching after the High Court stripped them of their seats for not taking their oaths properly last month.
The decision by the Legco Commission came after a three-hour closed-door meeting on Thursday afternoon. It was not a unanimous call by the commission’s nine pro-establishment and four pan-democrat members.
Andrew Leung said the commission had relied on the National People’s Congress ruling on November 7, which stated that “no corresponding powers and functions shall be exercised and no corresponding entitlements shall be enjoyed by anyone who fails to lawfully and validly take their oath”.
“The High Court did not rule on how we should handle their expenses … so we relied on the NPC’s ruling in making our decision,” Leung said.
“Since public money is involved, we have no choice but to handle it seriously. We will wait for the Court of Appeal’s judgment on their appeal first, and then we will send letters to the pair, and give them reasonable time to return the money.”
They were paid HK$834,393 each in advance for operating costs, entertainment and travel expenses, and IT and set-up costs following their election win in September. Combined with their monthly salary of HK$95,180, payable since October 1, they received HK$929,573 each.
Pro-establishment lawmaker Felix Chung Kwok-pan had previously believed the duo were likely to keep about HK$36,800 each as salary payments for their brief tenure as lawmakers from October 1 to 12. The court ruled last week that the pair had effectively vacated their seats on October 12.
“It was unreasonable to expect that under Beijing loyalists’ dominance, the commission would make a reasonable decision ... The decision was obviously intended to suppress us,” Baggio Leung said in a statement.
Barrister and former lawmaker Ronny Tong Ka-wah said the repayment issue was likely to be resolved through civil litigation, as it was debatable whether the pair started their tenure on October 1 and spent the money with a wrong intention.
The two localists are now raising money to foot the bill.