What Gandhi and Mencius can teach Martin Lee on defending errant oath-taker Leung Kwok-hung
Having read in the article “Ousted legislator argues top body has no power to add to Basic Law” (November 28) that Martin Lee Chu-ming mounted seven grounds of appeal against a lower court’s decision last year to declare that his client, Leung Kwok-hung, had been disqualified as a lawmaker after taking an invalid oath, I was reminded of the words of Mahatma Gandhi: “Happiness is when what you think, what you say and what you do are in harmony”.
I was also reminded of a quote from Mencius: “When heaven sends down calamities, it is still possible to escape from them. When we occasion the calamities ourselves, it is not possible any longer to live”.
Lee demanded that Leung be given another chance to retake the oath since he did not decline or refuse to take it in the first place. Inviting the court to treat the interpretation as “a very important opinion of the Standing Committee that the Oaths and Declarations Ordinance should be amended”, Lee noted that without an amendment, oath administrators and the public alike lack guidance on the objective, criteria and benchmark for valid oaths. Lee commented that he was puzzled at the government’s reluctance to undertake such an amendment.
He also said that the lower court erred in neglecting his client’s legitimate expectation based on past experience and in confusing his acts as intended to be incorporated into his oath.
As an ordinary Hongkonger and a Christian, I understand it is a lawyer’s responsibility to give his client the benefit of the doubt. But as a Catholic, Lee must be aware that the Bible says in Matthew 5:37: “Let your ‘yes’ be ‘yes’ and your ‘no’ be ‘no’. For whatever is more than these is from the evil one.”
Besides, does Lee really think it is acceptable to excuse on grounds of carelessness anyone carrying a yellow umbrella to take an oath in a court of law or the Legislative Council? Does this not constitute overt defiance?
The Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress has interpreted Article 104 of the Basic Law as requiring oath-takers to swear sincerely, solemnly and accurately. It is common sense that taking an oath is equal to telling the truth and that consistency is key here.
William Chiu, Victoria