My Take

Brouhaha over oath-taking is undermining legislative process

It’s the end of Legco if everyone decides that disrupting the people’s business is the way to achieve their goals

PUBLISHED : Friday, 21 October, 2016, 1:38am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 30 November, 2016, 11:01am

The oath-taking fiasco in the Legislative Council has provoked three major responses from the government and the pro-establishment camp. If one were to rate them in the order of furthering the public interest, the decision of new Legco president Andrew Leung Kwan-yuen has been by far the wisest.

Leung ruled that Youngspiration’s Sixtus Baggio Leung Chung-hang and Yau Wai-ching should be allowed to retake their oaths despite their disgraceful and insulting performance last week.

Like it or not, both were properly elected, so you can’t just disqualify them against the wishes of voters. But given their immaturity and immoderation, you give them enough rope and they may just hang themselves.

They should be given the chance to either prove or discredit themselves. Public opinion will be the best judge.

Andrew Leung’s decision is being challenged in a judicial review launched by the government, which is trying to disqualify the localist pair. That is the second major response. Pan-democrats have blasted the government for undermining the “separation of powers”.

Humm, the Basic Law is not the US Constitution. Such a doctrine is at best vaguely hinted at rather than clearly articulated in our mini-constitution. The city’s administrative set-up has always been “executive-led”. If there is a pillar of government that is guaranteed full independence, it’s the judiciary.

19 minutes of chaos: Legco president calls pro-establishment camp walkout ‘unfortunate’, plans new oaths for localists

Pan-democrats have no compunction about launching judicial reviews to undermine the executive branch. Since anyone can apply for a judicial review, it’s up to the court to decide whether to accept or reject it.

Now the court has accepted the government’s application. This means it is not completely without merit. The government is playing hardball, but it is a perfectly legal manoeuvre to get rid of those self-proclaimed troublemakers. Let the court decide.

Surely the worst of the three responses has been the walkout staged by pro-establishment lawmakers. Paul Tse Wai-chun apparently came up with the boneheaded idea, and the rest followed him. In the past, they have all accused the pan-dems of abusing quorum rules. Now they are doing the same.

Does this mean they will keep doing it to prevent the two localists from retaking their oaths until the court delivers a judgment? That will mean repeatedly disrupting Legco meetings and their agendas.

It’s the end of Legco if everyone decides disrupting the people’s business is the way to achieve their goals.