Leung Kwok-hung and Lau Siu-lai, two of the four pro-democracy lawmakers who were disqualified by the High Court in July for improper oath-taking last year, took their cases to the Court of Appeal.
The lawmakers lodged appeals on Monday in a bid to get their disqualification overturned and help them regain their seats in the Legislative Council.
Speaking to reporters outside the court, Leung, commonly known as “Long Hair”, said both he and Lau are optimistic about their chances of winning the appeal, and that they appreciate efforts by the Justice Defence Fund and the pan-democratic camp to help them meet the litigation costs.
Leung and Lau, along with two other lawmakers — Nathan Law Kwun-chung, who chairs the political party Demosistō and is now in jail for his role in a 2014 democracy protest; and Edward Yiu Chung-yim, who represented the architectural, surveying, planning and landscape functional constituency — were stripped of their Legco seats on July 14 after the government launched legal action alleging that they failed to take their oaths properly during a swearing-in ceremony on Oct. 12 last year.
The deadline for them to file an appeal was Monday.
Law and Yiu decided not to appeal the High Court verdict, but Leung and Lau opted to try their luck one more time.
Lodging appeals, the duo claimed that an interpretation of Article 104 of the Basic Law by China’s legislature, which led to their disqualification, was not of retroactive effect and that it violated some contents in the Basic Law that aim to protect rights of election.
On November 7 last year, the National People’s Congress Standing Committee announced its interpretation of Article 104 of Hong Kong’s Basic Law, declaring that lawmakers who failed to take their oaths properly should not be allowed to retake the pledges and assume office.
Following Beijing’s interpretation of the law, the Hong Kong government filed a petition in the court seeking the disqualification of the lawmakers who it deemed did not take their oaths properly.
The move initially led to two members from the localist group Youngspiration — Sixtus “Baggio” Leung Chung-hang and Yau Wai-ching — being barred from the Legco. The duo sought a review but their application was rejected by the Court of Final Appeal.
Later, in July this year, four other lawmakers — Leung Kwok-hung, Lau Siu-lai, Nathan Law and Edward Yiu – were ejected from the Legco on similar charges.
Among the lawmakers who decided not to appeal, Yiu said his decision was based on multiple factors.
Law, meanwhile, said in a statement issued from jail that the main reason he chose not to appeal is that he considers the litigation fee too high.
He stressed that he supports the efforts of Leung and Lau to reclaim their seats.
Given the developments related to the six disqualified lawmakers, as of now it is clear now that there will be by-elections for at least four Legco seats.
The seats are the Hong Kong Island constituency (left vacant by Law), the architectural, surveying, planning and landscape functional (Yiu), the New Territories East constituency (Leung) and the Kowloon West constituency (Yau).
Demosistō member Derek Lam Shun-hin said the party will proactively consider nominating a candidate to run for the by-election in the Hong Kong Island constituency, so that a new member can take the seat vacated by Law.
Leung and Lau, meanwhile, said they have no intention as of now to join the by-elections, according to Apple Daily.
Secretary for Constitutional and Mainland Affairs Patrick Nip Tak-kuen said on Monday that the Electoral Affairs Commission will begin making preparations for the by-elections.
It could take about six months before the polls can be held, he was quoted as saying.
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