A Hong Kong court on Friday disqualified four pro-democracy legislators from office following an oath-taking controversy.
The High Court ruled that Nathan Law, Leung Kwok-hung, Lau Siu-lai and Edward Yiu failed to take their oaths correctly following last year’s Legislative Council elections, disqualifying them from office, RTHK reports.
The disqualification is effective from October 12, 2016, the day of the initial Legco swearing-in ceremony.
The move takes the total number of lawmakers who faced such disqualification in the current legislature to six.
Earlier, two other members — Sixtus Leung and Yau Wai-ching from localist group Youngspiration — lost their Legco seats after they were found to have violated oath-taking norms in a show of defiance against China.
Friday’s action will deprive the pro-democracy camp of veto power in the Legco, given their reduced numbers.
Law, Leung Kwok-hung, Lau and Yiu were all present in the house when news of the disqualifications reached Legco in the afternoon, according to RTHK.
Lego Finance Committee chief Chan Kin-por suspended a meeting as the news came in. After around half an hour, the four lawmakers were still there, despite Chan’s calls for them to leave.
Chan then adjourned the meeting until Saturday.
Delivering the ruling Friday, Justice Thomas Au said Law, during his oath-taking last year, had given the impression that he was being “forced” to pledge allegiance to the SAR and central governments.
Law, who is from Demosisto party, was accused of raising the pitch of his voice while reading the words ‘People’s Republic of China’ which sounded to some people as if he was asking a question.
As for Leung, who is from the League of Social Democrats, he chanted slogans ahead of his speech and was holding a yellow umbrella, a symbol of the 2014 Occupy movement.
Au said these “theatrical acts” did not befit the “dignity” and “respect” the oath-taking process demands, according to the RTHK report.
Lau, from Democracy Groundwork, read her oath extremely slowly, with pauses in between each word.
She was later allowed a second chance to take the oath properly, as was Yiu, an independent, who added a line to his oath about fighting for genuine universal suffrage.
The judge said Lau did not “genuinely and faithfully” commit to the obligations pledged, while Yiu’s added words at the end of the oath on his second attempt rendered that invalid too.
All four lawmakers had flouted the “Oaths and Declarations Ordinance”, Au said, adding that the court adopted “an objective test” in assessing each case.
Following the adverse court ruling, the lawmakers all plan to file an appeal, RTHK quoted Leung Kwok-hung as saying.
– Contact us at [email protected]