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Legislative Council of Hong Kong

More Hong Kong pan-democrats in ‘highly risky’ position after ouster of four lawmakers: experts

At least nine lawmakers said to possibly share the same fate as barred six

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 18 July, 2017, 8:16am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 18 July, 2017, 11:55am

Legal experts warn that more Hong Kong pan-democratic lawmakers face the same fate as their six colleagues barred over improper oath-taking in the Legislative Council.

One legal scholar has even proposed allowing a judge to ­administer oath-taking to avoid similar troubles in future.

At least nine more lawmakers who shouted political slogans or tore up documents during their swearing-in last October may be in a “highly risky” position.

Daunted by legal costs, unseated Hong Kong lawmakers may focus on by-elections instead of appeals

These lawmakers are currently facing, or have faced judicial reviews: Raymond Chan Chi-chuen of People Power, Cheng Chung-tai of Civic Passion, non-affiliated localist Shiu Ka-chun, social activist Eddie Chu Hoi-dick, Democrats Andrew Wan Siu-kin, Lam Cheuk-ting, Helena Wong Pik-wan, and Roy Kwong Chun-yu, and the Labour Party’s Dr Fernando Cheung Chiu-hung.

Chief Executive Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor said on Saturday the government had no plans to go after more pan-democrat lawmakers over the issue.

Hong Kong pan-democrats list ways Carrie Lam could mend ties after ouster of four lawmakers

She was speaking a day after the High Court ruled against four lawmakers, Lau Siu-lai, Nathan Law Kwun-chung, “Long Hair” Leung Kwok-hung, and Edward Yiu Chung-yim. However, applications for judicial review have in the past been made by the public over pan-democrat oaths.

A civil action is already being taken in an attempt to unseat Chu and Cheng. Their case is scheduled to be heard next Wednesday, with the court expected to deal with technical aspects of the case.

Both Chu and Cheng admitted on Monday they were at a very high risk of being disqualified, according to the principles laid down in the court ruling last week.

However Chu doubted whether Beijing was mobilising people behind the scenes to take legal ­action against pan-democrats.

“The matter is not only about our seats, but a major constitutional crisis,” Cheng said, adding only voters should have the right to decide who stayed in Legco.

The matter is not only about our seats, but a major constitutional crisis
Cheng Chung-tai, lawmaker

In his ruling last Friday, Mr Justice Thomas Au Hing-cheung said oath-taking must be done strictly by the book with no additions or deviations – before, during, or after an oath.

Au based his ruling on both common law principles and a controversial interpretation of the Basic Law, Hong Kong’s mini-constitution, by China’s top legislature last November. This led to two newly elected pro-independence lawmakers, Sixtus Baggio Leung Chung-hang and Yau Wai-ching of Youngspiration, being barred for insulting the nation during their swearing-in.

“It is also a constitutional legal requirement that the oath taker, in taking the oath, must also sincerely and truly believe in the pledges under the oath that he or she is taking,” Au said in his ruling.

Professor Simon Young, of the faculty of law at the University of Hong Kong, said: “All of [the nine pan-democrats] are liable to be unseated because their oath-taking lacked sufficient ­sincerity or solemnity or was ­otherwise defective in form.

“This is the consequence of the ­judgment.

“We must now seriously ­consider whether the system should be reformed such that High Court judges will administer oaths directly.”

However, Albert Chen Hung-yee, a member of the Basic Law Committee, did not believe a judge was needed for such a task.

“After six lawmakers have been disqualified, people now know well what to do when they take the oath,” he said.

“I don’t think there will be anyone up to antics any more during oath-taking, unless he or she does not want to become a lawmaker.”

Barrister Lawrence Ma Yan-kwok, said there was still one uncertainty, referring to the appeal by the Youngspiration pair, which is expected to be heard by the Court of Final Appeal next month.

Disqualification could cost Hong Kong lawmakers up to HK$18m

“If the pair win their appeal ... the four lawmakers unseated by the court ruling last week would be likely to appeal too,” he said.


THE NINE WHO MIGHT BE OUSTED NEXT

1. Raymond Chan, People Power:

Shouted slogans declaring he was a Hongkonger and calling for true democracy and the resignation of then chief executive Leung Chun-ying. Tore up a government document on oath-taking.

2. Cheng Chung-tai, Civic Passion:

Shouted slogans calling for the constitution to be written by Hongkongers and “long live Hong Kong”.

3. Shiu Ka-chun, non-affiliated:

Beat a drum while shouting slogans that the umbrella movement had lost but not died.

4. Eddie Chu, non-affiliated:

Shouted slogans calling for democratic self-determination and the death of tyranny, also rejected Andrew Leung as Legco president.

5. Andrew Wan Siu-kin, Democratic Party

Paused between “People’s” and “Republic” when reading the phrase “People’s Republic of China” to make it sound like he was pledging to the Chinese people and not the country.

6. Lam Cheuk-ting, Democratic Party:

Shouted “crack down on corruption. Down with [Leung Chun-ying]” after the oath.

7. Helena Wong Pik-wan, Democratic Party:

Shouted “repeal 831, restart political reform. Down with Leung. Water Supplies Department to test water quality immediately”, after reading and signing her oath.

8. Roy Kwong Chun-yu, Democratic Party

Shouted slogans calling for true democracy.

9. Dr Fernando Cheung Chiu-hung, Labour Party:

Tore up a mock copy of the National People’s Congress Standing Committee decision made on August 31, 2014, after his oath, without shouting any slogans.