Public Eye

Too late to apologise for Hong Kong localist duo after Beijing’s Basic Law interpretation

Pair lost battle with their more powerful adversary, which sees independence movement as a threat to national security

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 08 November, 2016, 5:04pm
UPDATED : Wednesday, 09 November, 2016, 11:12pm

Too late for Hong Kong localist duo to apologise

Who’s sorry now? They had a chance to say sorry but chose to be David staring down Goliath. Gutsy, to be sure, but too gutsy to grasp that the Goliath they faced was not the biblical one. Stones from their slings bounced off Goliath who decapitated them with one swing.

There’s a simple moral to this story: whatever Beijing wants, Beijing gets. Did it want to spin the Basic Law’s oath-taking clause in a way that has sparked a political crisis? No. We brought it on ourselves.

Youngspiration’s Sixtus Baggio Leung Chung-hang and Yau Wai-ching may think that being elected gives them the right to do as they please. Opposition legislators may argue that being elected gives the pair the right to take up their seats. No. The process of being duly elected includes a solemn oath-taking, not making a mockery of it. High Court judge Michael Hartmann made that clear in 2004.

Any change in oversight of oath-taking by Hong Kong lawmakers likely to face stiff opposition, analysts warn

Beijing’s stern oath-taking interpretation has left the opposition stammering for a response that resonates. Critics warn of the dire consequences for our international image. They just don’t get it. We’re talking about a regime obsessed with national security. International image means nothing if Beijing believes that Hong Kong’s independence movement is a national security threat. When it draws a line, nothing – not international image, Occupy, or riots – will make it budge.

Did the opposition care about international image when it turned our legislature into a house of thugs who hurled missiles at government officials? What about our international image when opposition legislators scuffled with security guards to help Leung and Yau enter the Legislative Council because they were duly elected, yet mocked the duly elected Legco president?

Opposition legislators have held unity press conferences to condemn Beijing’s interpretation, the Legco president’s refusal to let the Youngspiration pair retake their oaths, and the chief executive’s court action against the two.

They claim they disagree with the pair’s behaviour but not once did they hold a joint press conference to condemn the two or even to demand that they apologise.

It would have been far better for Beijing to let our courts decide the Leung and Yau case. Who knows, Beijing may not have meddled if the opposition had sidelined the pair by sending an unequivocal message that it wants no part of the independence movement. Beijing now has the pair’s heads on spikes. More heads may roll.

So who’s sorry now?