image

Legislative Council oath-taking saga

Two Hong Kong lawmakers to appeal against disqualification, seeking to stop rivals winning seats in by-election

‘Long Hair’ Leung Kwok-hung and Lau Siu-lai announce move despite previously expressing doubts, after donation made to cover legal costs

PUBLISHED : Friday, 08 September, 2017, 9:14pm
UPDATED : Friday, 08 September, 2017, 11:31pm

Two disqualified Hong Kong opposition lawmakers said on Friday they would appeal against the court decision to remove them from the legislature, as they seek to prevent pro-establishment rivals winning the seats in a by-election.

The announcements by “Long Hair” Leung Kwok-hung and Lau Siu-lai, who had previously expressed doubts about an appeal due to the legal fees it would incur, came after the city’s pan-democratic camp of politicians promised to raise the HK$4.48 million Lau needed.

Lawyers for the pair will lodge the required legal documents with the courts before the Monday deadline.

The donation consists of about HK$2.88 million from the public collected by the pan-democrats’ Justice Defence Fund, and HK$400,000 from each of the four groups that make up the pan-democratic bloc in the Legislative Council.

Cardinal Joseph Zen backs HK$5 million fundraising effort for ousted lawmakers, calling their disqualification ‘evil’

Leung has also obtained legal aid for his appeal.

Lau and Leung, who represented the Kowloon West and New Territories East geographical constituencies, respectively, were stripped of their seats by the High Court in July along with Edward Yiu Chung-yim and Nathan Law Kwun-chung for taking their oaths of office improperly last October.

Accompanied by several other pan-democrat lawmakers in a show of solidarity on Friday, Lau said: “We can feel that an authoritarian era has arrived … but I am happy that our camp has shown a very good spirit of unity in thinking of solutions.”

Leung said the camp’s latest move showed it was “united, confident and capable of resisting the government’s suppression”.

Did all of Hong Kong’s disqualified lawmakers flout the basics of oath-taking?

Last month, Hong Kong’s top court put an end to a separate appeal bid by former pro-independence lawmakers-elect Sixtus Baggio Leung Chung-hang and Yau Wai-ching, following their earlier disqualification over the oath-taking saga. Baggio Leung and Yau had been elected in New Territories East and Kowloon West, respectively, and had asked the court to reinstate them to their seats.

Since then, some pan-democrats have suggested it would be “fairer” for the government to hold a by-election to fill Baggio Leung and Yau’s seats first, and separate polls for the other seats later. They argued that if two vacancies were filled in a constituency at the same time, one of the seats would likely go to a pro-Beijing rival.

But political scientists disagreed, saying if Lau and Leung Kwok-hung did not appeal then simultaneous elections would be suitable.

Leung Kwok-hung admitted his appeal bid was part of efforts to help pan-democrats win all six seats.

“We want to do our utmost to regain those seats,” he said.

Dennis Kwok, a Civic Party lawmaker who represents the city’s legal sector in Legco, said: “I think it will take six months until the Court of Appeal hears the case … The electoral affairs commission has no excuse to delay the by-election after Monday.”

A spokeswoman for political party Demosisto said Law, the chairman, “is inclined towards” not seeking an appeal over his disqualification.

Law was sentenced to eight months in jail by the Court of Appeal last month for his role in an illegal protest in the run-up to the 2014 Occupy pro-democracy movement.

Yiu could not be reached for comment on Friday as he was travelling abroad.