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Carrie Lam

New Hong Kong leader stands firm on legal bid to unseat four pan-democratic lawmakers

Chief executive says she ‘would not regard something wrong as right’ and drop appeal if case was lost simply to improve relations with Legco

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 06 July, 2017, 8:51pm
UPDATED : Thursday, 06 July, 2017, 10:26pm

Hong Kong’s new leader Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor says she is not prepared to waver on the government’s move to disqualify four pan-democratic lawmakers just to maintain harmony with the legislature.

The chief executive was asked on Thursday whether she would promise not to appeal should the controversial legal challenge initiated by her predecessor, Leung Chun-ying, be defeated in court.

Leung and Secretary for Justice Rimsky Yuen Kwok-keung have mounted a legal challenge to disqualify the four – “Long Hair” Leung Kwok-hung, Nathan Law Kwun-chung, Edward Yiu Chung-yim and Lau Siu-lai – for their allegedly improper oath-taking as legislators last year.

Two pro-independence lawmakers-elect – Yau Wai-ching and Sixtus Baggio Leung Chung-hang – have already been disqualified for their behaviour at their swearing-in on October 12.

“I cannot answer this question as ... I would have to study the judgment,” Lam said in a media gathering. “But I would not regard something wrong as right for the sake of improving relations [with the Legislative Council].”

She added that society did not regard the legal challenge against the four as a blow to the relationship between the executive and legislative branches of government.

While Lam said she was open to the idea of leading a Legco delegation to mainland China, she admitted that would only be possible when the legal case was closed.

The comments came against the backdrop of Lam’s efforts to improve ties with lawmakers.

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At her first question-and-answer session on Wednesday, she won praise for changing the setting by speaking next to instead of in front of the Legco president – regarded as a sign of respect for the legislature – and not picking quarrels as Leung did.

But Law, of Demosisto, was disappointed by her remarks.

“That oath-taking case is a political issue rather than a legal issue,” he said. “If Lam insists on going after lawmakers who are popularly returned by the public, I do not see how the executive-legislative relationship can be improved.”

Meanwhile, Lam also revealed that a concrete proposal on establishing a joint immigration facility for the cross-border, high-speed rail link to Guangzhou would be announced soon so the city could discuss it over the summer.

It is OK to allow [public comments] as I will not read them anyway
Carrie Lam on her new Facebook page

Critics say allowing mainland immigration officers to operate here would contravene the Basic Law, the city’s mini-constitution, which states that national or mainland laws should not be applied in Hong Kong.

Lam admitted she would not have touched such a thorny issue unless the launch of the railway had not been imminent.

On a lighter note, Lam, who recently launched her new Facebook page, said it was her decision to open it for public comments. Leung, who opened his personal Facebook account in 2015, restricted it to a limited number of people whom he added as friends.

“It is OK to allow [public comments] as I will not read them anyway,” she said.