Date
11 December 2016
Youngspirations' Sixtus Baggio Leung and Yau Wai-ching could have their seats declared vacant under an amended High Court challenge by Leung Chun-ying's government. Photos:: HKEJ
Youngspirations' Sixtus Baggio Leung and Yau Wai-ching could have their seats declared vacant under an amended High Court challenge by Leung Chun-ying's government. Photos:: HKEJ

So this is what the government really wants

Legco President Andrew Leung has deferred the oath-taking of Sixtus Baggio Leung and Yau Wai-ching until after the High Court has heard a judicial review filed by the Hong Kong government.

It looks like Andrew Leung has finally succumbed to pressure from the pro-establishment camp and made it easier for the government to deal with the localist duo once and for all.

In a dramatic but unsurprising twist, the government amended the writ and now wants the High Court to declare the seats vacant.

The government originally sought to challenge Andrew Leung’s decision to allow the pair to retake their oaths.

Interestingly, the High Court did not grant leave to the Legislative Council to delay the swearing-in, so it could still take place according to the council meeting schedule.

Andrew Leung’s decision to put it off until after the High Court challenge has been resolved is one round won by the government.

Now, need we be reminded still that the government has all along targeted Sixtus Leung and Yau for removal?

The government’s contention is that they are unfit to serve in Legco by virtue of their pro-independence advocacy; that they openly called for Hong Kong independence by displaying a banner that read “Hong Kong is not China”.

And sin they did, by the political morals of the powers that be, when they insulted all Chinese people by using language deemed derogatory when describing the motherland.

By turning a simple political decision by the Legco president into a matter for Hong Kong’s judicial system, the government not only interfered in the affairs of Legco but also  put the High Court in a needless predicament.

The High Court must now decide whether unfurling a banner is the same as making an advocacy and whether the words “Hong Kong is not China” rises to the level of inciting independence.

Also, the High Court must now define the historical and modern-day context of a term used by the Japanese to refer to China after the war to determine the extent to which the pair supposedly insulted all Chinese people.

With so many legal issues to deal with, the focus now is on what kind of precedent the judicial review will create.

But in all of this, the official line remains — that whoever advocates independence will be removed from office even if elected and sworn in.

More importantly, it would be conceivable that anyone who holds a different political stance can be kicked out of public office by the government.

We had a preview of this when the government disqualified six candidates from the recent Legco elections on the grounds that they were not patriotic enough.

But the more the government presses the independence button, the more people want to delve deeper into the issue.

A group of teachers is the latest to join the pro-independence camp, vowing to end the brainwashing of Hong Kong children with communist propaganda.

The Alliance of Hong Kong Teachers listed three other core concerns — use of Putonghua as a medium of instruction, mandatory flag raising ceremony and the rising proportion of Chinese students in Hong Kong schools.

How long will it be before the government turns this into a Legco-style witch hunt?  

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SC/AC/RA

EJ Insight writer

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