Date
4 December 2016
Maria Tam (inset) says the chairman of China's legislature has asked that a Basic law interpretation be included in its meeting agenda. 
Photos: CNSA, RTHK
Maria Tam (inset) says the chairman of China's legislature has asked that a Basic law interpretation be included in its meeting agenda. Photos: CNSA, RTHK

NPC set to interpret Basic Law in Legco oath row

The chairman of the National People’s Congress (NPC) has asked for an interpretation of the Basic Law amid a widening controversy over the oath-taking of lawmakers-elect Sixtus Baggio Leung and Yau Wai-ching.

NPC chairman Zhang Dejiang has requested an interpretation of Article 104 of Hong Kong’s mini constitution which states that legislators must vow allegiance to the Hong Kong government and the People’s Republic of China. 

Basic Law committee member Maria Tam, a Hong Kong deputy to the mainland’s legislature, said the committee is discussing the matter and a vote will be taken on Monday, RTHK reports.

Leung and Yau of the pro-independence party Youngspirations had their oath invalidated last month after they deviated from the script and used words that insulted China.

The events stirred huge controversy and ultimately alerted the central government in Beijing and the NPC, China’s legislature.

A Hong Kong government spokesman said the central government notified it on Thursday night that it has listed the interpretation of the Basic Law on the agenda of the NPC Standing Committee meeting after Hong Kong’s High Court has heard a judicial review.

The judicial review relates to a challenge by Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying against a decision by Legco President Andrew Leung to allow the duo to take the oath of office. 

The Department of Justice informed the court about the move on Friday morning, the spokesman said.

Winnie Tam, chairman of the Hong Kong Bar Association, said an interpretation of the Basic Law gives the public the impression that the prerogative of judges to rule on cases in accordance with Hong Kong law is being taken away.

However, she said the NPC has the right to interpret the law but Leung Chun-ying has the responsibility to protect the right of judicial adjudication.

His actionse should be consistent with those of Secretary for Justice Rimsky Yuen, Tam said.

Tam also questioned why Leung Chun-ying did not try his best to avoid having Beijing interpret the Basic Law.

She said Li Fei, chairman of the Basic Law Committee, had told her in a meeting recently that he has faith in Hong Kong judges and that matters can be resolved within Hong Kong’s judicial system.

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