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Legislative Council oath-taking saga

Hong Kong pan-democrats slam disqualification ruling, accuse government of ‘rewriting election results’

Decision sparks outrage from pro-democracy lawmakers who vow to appeal their cases, as Chief Executive Carrie Lam says she will not halt the legal proceedings

PUBLISHED : Friday, 14 July, 2017, 5:45pm
UPDATED : Friday, 14 July, 2017, 5:45pm

Hong Kong’s democratic camp has accused the government of “rewriting election results” as four of their lawmakers were disqualified by a court over an oath-taking controversy, but the city’s new leader has said she will not halt the lawsuit started by her predecessor.

The court’s ruling, which declared the oaths of office taken by the four were not valid because they were not “faithful” or “solemn” in pledging allegiance to China, sparked a strong reaction from the camp, with the four vowing to appeal their cases.

“Long Hair” Leung Kwok-hung, veteran lawmaker and one of the four disqualified, said the court decision, based on Beijing’s stringent interpretation of the city’s mini-constitution over oath-taking, had “deprived people of their choices”.

“The National People’s Congress has, through the interpretation, rewritten the election results in September last year,” Leung said at a press conference on Friday. “This can’t happen in any place with true democracy.”

Together with two localists who were ousted earlier, the latest court ruling has decreased the number of pan-democrats in the geographical constituency from 19 to 14. This means the bloc has lost their majority in the constituency, which is necessary for them to block any bill amendments tabled by the pro-establishment camp, which has 16 in that stream.

How lawsuit to unseat four lawmakers could change balance of power in Hong Kong legislature

At another event on Friday, Chief Executive Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor was asked whether she would intervene and stop the proceedings, which were started by Leung Chun-ying. She said “no”.

Lam, who assumed office just two weeks ago, has vowed to improve the administration’s relationship with the legislature, which turned sour under Leung.

Asked if the court’s ruling would make this more difficult, Lam said: “Building bridges has to be done in accordance to the law. The chief executive should not compromise the rule of law just to be friendly.”

She said the government would wait until the whole judicial process was completed before organising by-elections to fill the four vacated seats.

The other three who are newly disqualified are Nathan Law Kwun-chung, Lau Siu-lai and Edward Yiu Chung-yim.

Minutes after the judgement was handed down, the Legislative Council’s finance committee chairman Chan Kin-por suspended the committee meeting and ordered the four to leave immediately. He adjourned the meeting to Saturday after the four refused to comply.