Hong Kong Basic Law

There’s no place for immature antics among our lawmakers

The two young lawmakers who did not take their oath properly may have thought they were being clever, but now they need to apologise for their stupidity and behave in the way expected of public office holders

PUBLISHED : Monday, 17 October, 2016, 12:36am
UPDATED : Monday, 17 October, 2016, 12:36am

Controversy is still raging days after two young lawmakers-elect failed to swear in as required by the Basic Law last Wednesday. By deviating from the wording of the oaths and adding humiliating references about the country and its people, Sixtus Baggio Leung Chung-hang and Yau Wai-ching of Youngspiration have gone beyond what is tolerable in society. They should apologise and take their oaths in the way expected of public officers, or risk being unable to take up the position.

It does not take an expert to tell that the term “chee-na” has a derogatory meaning in today’s context. Leung therefore has little excuse for pronouncing China in such way. He later said it was his “Ap Lei Chau accent”. Yau took it further by turning People’s Republic of China into what sounded like swear words. When questioned by the media, she asked whether it was discrimination against her English proficiency. The two youngsters may consider themselves ingenious. They may even think their theatrics have an appeal to certain sectors in society. But to most people, what they did was simply immature and unsophisticated. Their defence also borders on the ridiculous.

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That political antics have taken centre stage in our parliamentary politics is regrettable. What set the latest fiasco apart is that it does not just reflect badly on the members concerned and the legislature as a whole. The Chinese community can also be excused for feeling offended when national pride and dignity is perceived to be undermined. In a statement denouncing the duo, the government said some members had behaved in violation of the dignity expected of lawmakers and had spoken and acted in an offensive manner that harmed the feelings of Chinese people.

The duties of lawmakers are clear enough. They include enacting law, examining public spending and debating issues of public concern. These are spelled out clearly in Basic Law article 73. Equally unequivocal is the oath for Legco office – to uphold the Basic Law, to bear allegiance to the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region of the People’s Republic of China,and to serve the city conscientiously, dutifully, in full accordance with the law, honestly and with integrity. If individuals have problems coming to terms with what is expected of them, it has to be wondered whether they are suitable to serve.

Given unruly behaviour is becoming the norm rather than the exception, it is imperative for the legislature to consider more effective tools to deal with such scenarios in coming years.