Legislative Council oath-taking saga

Legco takes Baggio Leung and Yau Wai-ching to court for HK$1.86 million payment

The Legco commission is trying to claw back wages and subsidies given to the pair before they were stripped of their seats

PUBLISHED : Friday, 13 October, 2017, 7:06pm
UPDATED : Monday, 18 December, 2017, 3:49pm

The Legislative Council Commission kept to its word and took two disqualified pro-independence lawmakers to court on Thursday, demanding that they return some HK$1.86 million paid to them from public funds.

The Legco commission, which handles administrative matters of the Legislative Council, is asking Sixtus Baggio Leung Chung-hang and Yau Wai-ching to each repay some HK$930,000 in wages and subsidies. The commission made payments to them between September 22 and October 28 last year, after they were elected in the September 4 Legislative Council election.

Leung and Yau, of the pro-independence group Youngspiration, each received HK$834,393 for office operations, information technology, entertainment and travelling expenses, and a salary of HK$95,180 for the month of October 2016.

But during the swearing-in ceremony for legislators on October 12 last year, they shouted pro-independence slogans and insulted China. The government of former chief executive Leung Chun-ying took them to court. After Beijing issued an interpretation of Article 104 of the Basic Law (Hong Kong’s mini-constitution), requiring public officials to take their oaths “sincerely” and “solemnly” or face disqualification, the pair were stripped of their seats.

China’s top body lays down law on Hong Kong oath-taking

Subsequently, the Legco Commission asked the pair several times to repay the sums. At the end of August this year, after the Court of Final Appeal rejected the pair’s bid to be reinstated as lawmakers, the comission issued its final ultimatum. Its letter said that it would take legal action if it did not receive the funds by September 12.

Legco issues final notice for HK$1.8 million payment from ousted duo

In its application to the District Court, the commission said that its payments to the pair were actually “unlawful”, as Leung and Yau had not formally assumed public office. It added that it had disbursed the money mistakenly, wrongly thinking that Leung and Yau were entitled to it ahead of their swearing-in.

“The entitlement of Leung and Yau to the payments … was conditional upon them … lawfully and validly taking the Legislative Council oath, after which they could exercise the powers and functions and enjoy the entitlements of the public office of a member of Legco,” said the commission.

Leung and Yau had previously told the media that they would not repay the money and were prepared to go bankrupt. On Friday evening, Yau told the Post that she had not received any legal documents and had not yet decided on her next move.