The Hong Kong government denounced the “offensive” behavior of some members of the new Legislative Council during their swearing-in ceremony on Wednesday.
In a statement issued on Thursday, the government said the oath-taking by Legco members when assuming office “is not just to ensure compliance with the law, but also a solemn promise they make as public officers to the entire community”, the Hong Kong Economic Journal reports.
However, “some behaved in violation of the dignity expected of Legco members, or even spoke or acted in an offensive manner that harmed the feelings of our compatriots,” the statement said.
Although the government did not identify the legislators, it was obviously referring to Sixtus “Baggio” Leung Chung-hang and Yau Wai-ching, both from the localist group Youngspiration.
Taking his oath in English, Leung pronounced China as “Chee-na”, which sounds similar to “Shina”, the derogatory pronunciation used by the Japanese in referring to China during the war.
Yau, on the other hand, was heard pronouncing “People’s Republic of China” as “People’s Re-fxxxing of Chee-na” several times.
Both also carried with them a banner bearing the words “Hong Kong is not China”.
Technically, Leung and Yau have failed to complete their oath-taking and therefore cannot participate in Legco sessions until they take their oath properly, using the official wording.
Leung said the controversy was only a matter of accent, noting that even Sun Yat-sen, founding father of modern China, had used “Chee-na” in his speeches.
Former Legco president Jasper Tsang Yok-sing said it was distressing to watch the conduct of the two lawmakers during the solemn ceremony, saying their actions brought shame to Hong Kong people.
Chief Secretary Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor said any reasonable person would grieve and feel disappointed after hearing the words of the two lawmakers.
Andrew Leung Kwan-yuen, who succeeded Tsang as the new Legco president, said it was proper for the government to denounce the conduct of the two lawmakers, adding that many citizens have expressed strong opposition to the way they insulted China.
Meanwhile, the Democratic Alliance for the Betterment and Progress of Hong Kong (DAB) demanded that Leung and Yau retract their oaths and apologize to the public.
The pro-Beijing party also urged that the two be subjected to strict monitoring when they retake their oaths next Wednesday.
Another legislator-elect, pan-democrat Edward Yiu Chung-yim, will also be asked to retake his oath after he added the phrase “universal suffrage” to the words.
Pro-government Wong Ting-kwong, who omitted “Hong Kong” in his oath, will also be sworn in again next week.
Ivan Choy, a senior lecturer at the Chinese University of Hong Kong, suggested that the government step aside and let the public be the judge of the controversy, noting that the executive branch of the government has no power to interfere in the affairs of the legislature.
[Chinese version 中文版]
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