Senior Beijing official in Hong Kong expresses ‘condemnation’ over localist lawmakers' oaths
Reported statement follows that of city’s leader as Legco committee chairman locks rejected localist lawmakers out of meeting
A senior official at Beijing’s liaison office in Hong Kong has expressed “condemnation” over two localist lawmakers’ modified oaths as the city’s legislature remained in a state of disarray.
State media Xinhua on Friday quoted a “person-in-charge” of the central government’s liaison office in Hong Kong as expressing “strong anger and condemnation” over the two lawmakers’ “despicable words and actions”.
“They deliberately used wordings that insulted the nation and people during their oath taking,” Xinhua quoted the person as saying. “This has challenged the nation’s dignity and severely hurt the feelings of all Chinese people and overseas Chinese, including Hong Kong compatriots. We express strong anger and condemnation.”
The person added that the lawmakers – widely understood to be Sixtus “Baggio” Leung Chung-hang and Yau Wai-ching – had“incited public anger in society”.
Separately, Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying said he was “angry and disappointed” with the lawmakers who were rejected as their oaths seriously affected the relationship between mainlanders and Hongkongers.
“However evasive they were being, if they want to be legislators, they must have the commitment,” the city’s leader said on Friday, referring to the requirement to uphold the Basic Law and swear allegiance to China and Hong Kong. His remarks echoed a strongly worded statement his administration issued a day earlier.
Meanwhile, the Legislative Council was still in a state of disarray on Friday, as a committee was convened behind locked doors to keep out localists whose oaths were rejected, and ended in a ban on discussions about the legality of the Legco presidential election.
Chaos reigned during the inaugural meeting of the newly elected Legco on Wednesday as two Youngspiration lawmakers had their oaths invalidated. They pronounced China as “Chee-na”, a variation of derogatory term “Shina” used by Japan during wartime, and displayed a banner saying “Hong Kong is not China”.
It ended with a disputed vote that saw pro-Beijing stalwart Andrew Leung Kwan-yuen, who did not secure official proof that he had given up his British nationality until the day of the election, become the president.
Watch: three Hong Kong lawmakers have oaths rejected
During Friday’s House Committee meeting, three of the four doors of the meeting room were locked by Legco staff, and the only one that was open was heavily guarded. The measure was understood to prevent Youngspiration duo Leung and Yau from trying to enter as they did on Wednesday. The doors were unlocked only after a row, in which the democratic camp urged committee chairwoman Starry Lee Wai-king to open them.
The pan-democrats then tried to bring the oath and election controversies back on the agenda, but were rejected.
“Secretary-general [Kenneth Chen Wei-on] ruled the [Youngspiration lawmakers’] oaths as invalid without consulting legal advice,” Lau Siu-lai, elected on her platform for self-determination, said. “It was an unjust decision and the subsequent meeting, in which the president was elected, was therefore unlawful.”
Lau also accused Chen of “breaching political neutrality” in wrongly advising the pan-democrat who chaired the proceedings of the election that he could not adjourn the meeting, even though Leung’s nationality remained unclear at that time.
But Lee stopped the debate. “I have decided that the House Committee is not an appropriate venue to review decisions made at the council,” the lawmaker of the Democratic Alliance for the Betterment and Progress of Hong Kong said, ending the meeting.
Chen did not explain why he invalidated their oaths, only saying he would do that in writing.
Annoyed, pan-democratic lawmakers surrounded the chairwoman and argued with her to no avail.
The camp’s convenor, James To Kun-sun, blasted Lee, saying she was “incapable” and unfamiliar with the meeting rules. “She made a serious error of judgment, if not of having a political bias, in suppressing a meaningful and lawful discussion.”The camp would consider putting a vote of no confidence against Lee, he added.
Meanwhile, the pro-Beijing camp sent a petition to the Legco president asking him to also invalidate the oaths of Nathan Law Kwun-chung and Lau Siu-lai. Law had raised his tone while swearing allegiance to China, sounding like he was asking a question, while Lau paused for six seconds in between every word in order to, she said, make the oath meaningless.
Additional reporting by Shirley Zhao