My Take

This is what happens when you breach the Basic Law

Country’s top legislative body has to step in when irresponsible Hong Kong lawmakers challenge the sovereignty and territorial integrity of the nation

PUBLISHED : Monday, 07 November, 2016, 1:44am
UPDATED : Monday, 07 November, 2016, 1:44am

Of the five interpretations of the Basic Law offered by the national parliament for Hong Kong, the latest on oath-taking may be the most controversial.

Pan-democratic critics, many of whom have been directly responsible for creating this crisis in the first place, absurdly claim the debacle is entirely a Legislative Council matter to be handled by itself. Anything else is executive interference. As the Chinese saying goes, they have been playing “gods and ghosts” by encouraging the misdeeds of two stupid and misguided lawmakers-elect to go further and further until there is no return. Thanks to these people, a farcical storm in a teacup has developed into a full-blown constitutional crisis.

How can the central government and the country’s highest law-making body not be involved when the swearing-in fiasco clearly breached the standard and legally sanctioned oath of Hong Kong lawmakers and posed a direct challenge to the sovereignty and territorial integrity of the nation?

Pan-democrats and their allies have always vouched for the integrity and independence of the judiciary. So they must accept the Court of First Instance’s decision to allow the government’s judicial review to proceed. Now they fall back on the argument that the upcoming interpretation by the Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress undermines the authority of the judiciary and “one country two systems” principle.

Interpretation of Basic Law ‘a way for Beijing to undermine power of Hong Kong’s judiciary, Legco’

Well, the interpretation will be published soon. But reliable reports say it will focus on Article 104 of the Basic Law on the oath-taking of principal officers of the government, the judiciary and the legislature.

As Bar Association chairwoman, Winnie Tam Wan-chi SC has pointed out that the interpretation actually addresses separate issues from the ones currently under judicial review before the court.

The judicial review was launched by the government against Legco president Andrew Leung Kwan-yuen’s initial decision to allow Youngspiration pair Sixtus Baggio Leung Chung-hang and Yau Wai-ching retake their oaths.

The government has argued in court that the Legco president has no final say on the meaning of the provisions under Article 104 or the Oaths and Declarations Ordinance, which states that anyone who “declines or neglects” to take the oath should be disqualified. Instead, the authority is vested in the courts.

Whatever the court’s final judgment and the NPC Standing Committee’s interpretation, the two should not undermine or contradict each other.