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Legislative Council oath-taking saga

Ousted Hong Kong lawmaker Yau Wai-ching shows remorse for ‘arrogance and rashness’

The 26-year-old localist pledges to put more effort into conducting policy research and discussion

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 27 August, 2017, 8:58pm
UPDATED : Sunday, 27 August, 2017, 10:16pm

A pro-independence activist disqualified for improper oath-taking has spoken of her embarrassment at the rashness of her actions and says she is now bearing the consequences.

Youngspiration member Yau Wai-ching penned her message after the Court of Final Appeal on Friday rejected a final bid by her and fellow radical Sixtus Baggio Leung Chung-hang to be reinstated in the Legislative Council, halting their political careers and threatening them with bankruptcy as they face a HK$12 million bill.

“I feel very guilty for my assistants ... for not being able to let them play to their strengths at the lawmakers’ office,” Yau wrote in a letter uploaded to social media on Saturday.

Ousted Hong Kong lawmakers Baggio Leung and Yau Wai-ching lose final bid to regain seats

“For those who have voted for me, the single issue of losing the right to speak in the legislature has already made it difficult to absolve myself from blame.”

Yau, who was elected with 20,643 votes in the Legco polls last September, said she had hoped to put her experiences of the past 10 months on the record to serve as a reference in future.

“I am embarrassed when I look back at my arrogance and rashness. I am now bearing the consequences of what I have sowed,” she wrote.

The pair’s oath antics, which featured anti-China slogans and banners in the Legco chamber on October 12 last year, prompted Beijing to interpret the Basic Law, the city’s mini-constitution, and make improper oath-taking an offence punishable by disqualification.

A court subsequently unseated them in a legal challenge mounted by former chief executive Leung Chun-ying and his justice minister in November.

The interpretation of the Basic Law also paved the way for the government to unseat four more pro-democracy lawmakers: “Long Hair” Leung Kwok-hung, Nathan Law Kwun-chung, Edward Yiu Chung-yim and Lau Siu-lai.

The tilt in Legco’s balance of power has given the pro-establishment bloc a chance to change the rulebook to curb filibustering, a favourite delaying tactic of the opposition camp.

Yau said she had lost her direction for a time after the setback and feared whether she could make a comeback because of the impression she had left.

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“But one’s impression on others would be set if [one] takes no action,” she wrote.

While she said it was impossible to right her earlier mistake, the 26-year-old localist pledged to put more effort into a new direction in future – conducting policy research and discussion.

“To advance my beliefs ... I must reflect on my wrongs in the past and to keep going in a different role and position.”

Yau’s remorse stands in stark contrast to her comments last year after her disqualification, when she said her foremost task was to win the court case rather than offer an apology, as she accused the government of resolving a legal issue with political means.

Her latest statement was greeted with a mixed response online. While some readers said she had wasted a chance to speak up for voters in the legislature, her supporters said the government should be blamed for unseating popularly returned lawmakers.

Baggio Leung apologised to the public outside the court on Friday for not being able to “protect the results of the Legco elections in September last year”.

He urged judges to safeguard rule of law, saying the system had been abused by the city’s government and Beijing.