Four lawmakers will be banned from Hong Kong’s Legislative Council for breaching their oaths of office, the High Court ruled today.
These disqualified lawmakers include veteran pro-democracy activist “Long Hair” Leung Kwok-hung and newly elected lawmakers Nathan Law Kwun-chung, Lau Siu-lai and Edward Yiu Chung-yim.
They planned on Thursday to file a court appeal against their removal from the lawmaking council, despite concerns about their ability to pay legal fees.
Demosisto released a statement today announcing that they would appeal the court ruling, stating that the Beijing government had undermined the Hong Kong lawmakers' legislative power by reinterpreting the basic law.
The legal bid for their removal was originally made by former chief executive Leung Chun-ying.
The ruling by the Court of First Instance will have a big impact on the ability of Hong Kong’s pro-democratic bloc to influence lawmaking decisions. The pan-democrats are already a minority group in the council, and now that Leung, Law and Lau – all directly-elected lawmakers – have been disqualified, the group has lost its power to block bill amendments put forward by the pro-establishment camp.
The disqualification will take effect on October 12, exactly one year on from when the four were first sworn in. The court battle stemmed from their behaviour during the original oath-taking ceremony last October.
Leung Kwok-hung took his oath holding a yellow umbrella – a symbol of the Occupy protests in 2014 – and chanted anti-Communist Party slogans.
Law raised his tone when reciting the word “Republic” in “People’s Republic of China”, as if asking a question.
Yiu added a sentence to his oath: “I will uphold procedural justice in Hong Kong, fight for genuine universal suffrage and serve the city’s sustainable development.”
Lau paused for six seconds between every word of her oath, then later wrote on Facebook that she had meant to render the statement “meaningless”.
The oath-taking attempts by Yiu and Lau were declared invalid by the Legco president, but they were allowed to retake them at a later session. Lawyers see Lau as the one most likely to be kicked out of the council.
In an earlier legal bid, the administration succeeded in having Youngspiration’s pro-independence lawmakers-elect, Sixtus Baggio Leung Chung-hang and Yau Wai-ching, disqualified for their anti-China antics while taking their oaths.
Chief Executive Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor earlier refused to promise that she would not appeal should the government lose the case. “I would not regard something wrong as right for the sake of improving relations [with Legco],” she said.
The four lawmakers said they would continue to perform their duties on Friday by attending a Finance Committee meeting at 2.30pm, half an hour before the court is expected to issue its ruling.
The Legco’s finance committee chairman Chan Kin-por suspended the meeting for 30 minutes as the disqualified lawmakers were forbidden to attend.
Before the rule, Legco president Andrew Leung Kwan-yuen said that he didn’t want to have more lawmakers disqualified, but that he respected the ruling of the High Court. “The government followed the laws to unseat the lawmakers. We have to respect the rule of the High Court. If they are disqualified, they aren’t allowed to attend any meetings at the Legco anymore.”