Andrew Leung becomes president of Hong Kong Legco after dispute over British nationality

Functional constituency legislator presents chamber with copy of declaration showing he renounced UK passport

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 12 October, 2016, 5:43pm
UPDATED : Wednesday, 12 October, 2016, 11:26pm

Pro-establishment legislator Andrew Leung Kwan-yuen became the new Legislative Council president on Wednesday evening, after pushing the vote ahead by presenting a copy of a declaration confirming he had given up his British nationality.

After multiple adjournments, moving the meeting to another room and swapping the chair of the election, Leung won the race by 38 votes to democratic camp nominee James To Kun-sun’s zero. There were also three blank votes.

Just before the vote, most of the pan-democrats tore up their ballot papers and stormed out of the meeting room.

Localists Yau Wai-ching, Sixtus “Baggio” Leung Chung-hang and architecture representative Edward Yiu Chung-yim were barred from entering the meeting room as their oaths had been rejected in the morning.

Leung, of the Business and Professionals Alliance, had been under pressure from pan-democratic and localist legislators to produce the paper, as they said they could not otherwise be sure Leung had renounced his British nationality.

The Basic Law ­requires the Legco president be a Chinese citizen with no right of abode in any foreign country.

On Wednesday morning, before the session began, Leung allowed other Legco members to examine two letters from the UK government saying he had registered to renounce his British nationality.

But his opponents were not satisfied with the documents. They questioned why Leung did not have the official declaration of renunciation on hand.

Civic Party lawmaker Claudia Mo Man-ching said: “I myself also have a declaration of renunciation [of British nationality]… Shouldn’t we wait until Leung has the declaration?”

“The pro-establishment camp should learn a lesson,” activist-turned-legislator Eddie Chu Hoi-dick said. “They should not have chosen a functional constituency lawmaker to be president. If they had opted for a directly elected lawmaker, no nationality issue would arise.”

Starry Lee Wai-king, chairwoman of the pro-establishment Democratic Alliance for the Betterment and Progress of Hong Kong, said it was understandable that Legco members wanted to see the true document. But she said she was convinced Leung was eligible for the presidency after reading the British Home Office’s letters.

Three rejections and four deviations mark Hong Kong Legislative Council swearing-in

Around two hours into the debate in the afternoon, Leung, who had been absent from the chamber since the lunch break, announced: “My document has arrived and it’s now in the antechamber. Colleagues can take a look.”

Leung opened the letter in front of the press, showing the original copy of the letter with a stamp from the Home Office dated September 30.

Some pan-democrats and localists were still dissatisfied.

Tanya Chan of the Civic Party said the declaration did not say Leung would definitely lose his right of abode when he gave up his British nationality.

“It only says ‘may’ when it comes to whether he would lose his right of abode in the UK”, she said.

But Leung maintained that he only had right of abode in Hong Kong.