Legislative Council of Hong Kong

Let cool heads prevail in the Legco oath fracas

All sides should calm down, respect the impending court ruling, and allow the council to get on with its real business

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 26 October, 2016, 11:08pm
UPDATED : Wednesday, 30 November, 2016, 11:00am

Never has the Legislative Council faced a more critical situation. In only the second week of its new four-year term, it has again been paralysed by the oath-taking fiasco. No sooner had the meeting begun than proceedings were disrupted by confrontation. The situation is in no one’s interest. If the stalemate continues, not only will Legco become dysfunctional, but the government will be prevented from enacting necessary laws and obtaining funding for day-to-day administration and new developments. It is imperative for all sides to keep a cool head and avoid raising the stakes further.

Legco drama rages on: meeting adjourned after Hong Kong localists enter to defy oaths ban

Yesterday’s chaos came after the pan-democrats joined forces to protest against the walkout by the pro-establishment camp last week and the controversial move by Legco president Andrew Leung Kwan-yuen to defer another chance for newly elected localist lawmakers Sixtus Baggio Leung Chun-hang and Yau Wai-ching to be sworn in. The Youngspiration pair failed to correctly complete their oaths of office two weeks ago after adding foul language and wording deemed insulting to the Chinese people. Unlike previous political antics by some rebel lawmakers, the two have gone beyond the boundary of common decency. Their behaviour is unacceptable. But more importantly, what they champion is against the Basic Law and will only lead Hong Kong into a cul-de-sac.

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Like it or not, the lesson to learn is that there is a price to pay for such behaviour in Hong Kong’s political context. The advocacy of independence has crossed Beijing’s “red line”, and those who do not abide by the Basic Law will face the consequences. Whether the pair will be disqualified as lawmakers is now for the city’s courts to decide.

There is also a wider implication for Beijing-Hong Kong relations. At stake is not just the qualification of two lawmakers and Legco’s credibility and image. Experience shows that the more intense the political confrontations are, the tougher Beijing becomes on the city’s affairs. This, in turn, further provokes certain quarters in society and fuels stronger actions. The escalating tension does nothing for our relations with Beijing and for the city’s development, be it economic or political.

Proceedings for the judicial review launched by the government to disqualify Baggio Leung and Lau will begin next Thursday. All parties concerned should try to take the heat off by refraining from exacerbating the situation further. Equally important is the need for all sides to respect the court. Hopefully, the ruling will allow Legco to get on with its real business.