23 February 2019
Cheng Yuk-kai (inset, right) filed the application for judicial review to the High Court seeking the disqualification of Cheng Chung-tai (inset, left) and seven other lawmakers. Photo: HKEJ
Cheng Yuk-kai (inset, right) filed the application for judicial review to the High Court seeking the disqualification of Cheng Chung-tai (inset, left) and seven other lawmakers. Photo: HKEJ

High Court asked to disqualify eight lawmakers over oath-taking

The High Court is being asked to disqualify eight lawmakers whose oath-taking was deemed valid by Legislative Council President Andrew Leung Kwan-yuen.

The move came after the National People’s Congress Standing Committee on Monday issued an interpretation of Article 104 of the Basic Law on the controversial oath-taking of legislators-elect Sixtus “Baggio” Leung Chung-hang and Yau Wai-ching.

According to Beijing’s interpretation, officials advocating independence from China could face disqualification, whether or not they completed their oath-taking.

In an application for judicial review lodged on Wednesday, Cheng Yuk-kai, former chairman of the Taxi Drivers and Operators Association, said the eight lawmakers-elect should be stripped of their Legco seats and their oath-taking declared invalid because the language and props they used while being sworn into office ran counter to the criteria set in the NPCSC interpretation, the Hong Kong Economic Journal reports.

Cheng also asked the High Court to bar Andrew Leung and other Legco officers from allowing any of them to retake their oaths of office.

The eight lawmakers are: Leung Kwok-hung of the League of Social Democrats; Nathan Law of Demosistō; Cheng Chung-tai of Civic Passion; Raymond Chan Chi-chuen of People Power; Eddie Chu Hoi-dick of the Land Justice League; Lau Siu-lai of Democracy Groundwork; Edward Yiu Chung-yim, representing the architecture functional constituency; and Shiu Ka-chun, representing the social welfare sector.

Leung Kwok-hung was seen holding a yellow umbrella – symbol of the 2014 street protests –during his oath-taking and tearing up a piece of paper symbolizing the NPC Standing Committee’s decision on universal suffrage, while Law was accused of altering his intonation on purpose while reading out his oath.

While Cheng made the court application only in his name, his association apparently supports him on his move. 

His association was one of the groups that applied for a court injunction to prevent pro-democracy activists from entering Mong Kok during the 2014 Occupy Movement.

It also bought a front-page ad in newspapers last month, questioning why Yau and Baggio Leung were being given another chance after their oath-taking on Oct. 12 was voided.

During their swearing-in, the Youngspiration duo wore a cape with the words “Hong Kong is not China” and pronounced words in a manner deemed derogatory to the mainland.

Eric Cheung Tat-ming, principal lecturer at the University of Hong Kong, said he could foresee that more petitions seeking the disqualification on other lawmakers would come in the next few days.

However, he doubts whether the court would accept such applications, noting that the reasons being given are not solid enough.

Asked how Legco will act on Beijing’s interpretation of the Basic Law, Andrew Leung said there is no detailed plan at the moment as any action has to wait for legal opinions.

In Beijing, Wang Zhenmin, legal chief of Beijing’s Liaison Office in Hong Kong, told a seminar that the NPC Standing Committee did not volunteer to interpret the Basic Law but was forced to do by those who have been stepping up efforts to push Hong Kong independence.

Separately, an alliance announced Thursday that it will lead more than 400 groups to rally in front of the Legco building in Admiralty this Sunday to show their support for Beijing regarding its interpretation of the law.

[Chinese version 中文版]

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