Hong Kong Politics & Protest

U-turn as LegCo president defers repeat oath-taking of two elected localist lawmakers

Legislative Council President Andrew Leung Kwan-yuen has said that the repeat oath-taking of localist lawmaker Sixtus “Baggio” Leung Chun-hang and Yau Wai-ching will be deferred on Wednesday, until a legal challenge over the matter is concluded.

andrew leung press conference

Photo: Now TV screenshot.

Andrew Leung previously decided that he would allow the duo to take their oaths again. However, on the same day last Tuesday, the government applied for an interim injunction to block the duo from retaking the oath. It failed, although the court will hear a case of judicial review over Leung’s decision on November 3.

Explainer: Separation of powers, judicial reviews and the legal bid to stop localist lawmakers

The pro-Beijing camp walked out of the chamber last Wednesday in protest to cause the meeting to be terminated prematurely. Leung said it was one of the considerations he made in making his u-turn.

Baggio Leung Yau Wai-ching

Baggio Leung and Yau Wai-ching. Photo: Facebook.

Leung said the president’s power to decide upon agenda of LegCo’s meeting came from the Basic Law Article 72(2) which states that the president shall “decide on the agenda, giving priority to government bills for inclusion in the agenda,” after he consulted legal advisers and senior counsel Jat Sew-tong.

“If I were to continue to place the oath-taking of Mr Leung and Miss Yau on the agenda, the most probable outcome would be that the operation of LegCo would come to a complete halt. As president, I must consider the overall interest of LegCo as a law making institution, it is my constitutional duty to ensure the effective discharge of the power and function of LegCo and the orderly fair and public conduct of council meetings.”

The two lawmakers both pronounced China as “chee-na” in their first taking of the oath in English, which some took as an insult to Chinese people, whilst Yau seemingly pronounced “republic” as “refucking” in the phrase “People’s Republic of China.” They also brought a flag that read “Hong Kong is not China” during the ceremony. Their oaths were rejected at the time.

andrew leung

Andrew Leung. Photo: Stanley Leung/HKFP.

Barred from entry

Article 18 of LegCo’s rules of procedures states that oath-taking does not require the president’s approval, and that lawmakers may suggest that they wish to take the oath at the meeting.

However, Leung said the duo will not be able to enter the chamber on Wednesday, because the agenda of the meeting did not include their swearing-in.

Leung said he did not communicate with the government or the China Liaison Office over the past few days, but he has often been locked in his room with LegCo staff members and legal advisers discussing the possible ways forward.

He added that he “did not care about” reactions from the central government and he did not feel he was being threatened by the pro-Beijing camp.

“My decision is made on the basis of the Basic Law and the [LegCo’s] rules of procedures,” he said.

high-court-2

Photo: GovHK.

Month-long process 

The court case may take months to conclude as both sides may lodge appeals. Leung said he hoped the case could be wrapped up quickly, though he did not want to assert pressure to the court.

“I think the situation now is unprecedented, we have members who are elected, but then sort-of during the oath taking… not taking the whole business seriously,” he said, commenting on Baggio Leung and Yau’s word choices. “Nowhere in the world would a legislator… do such a thing.”

Leung said Lau Siu-lai, the other lawmaker who has yet to complete her oath, will be allowed to take the oath on Wednesday. On Tuesday morning, Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying urged Andrew Leung to handle the incident as soon as possible

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U-turn as LegCo president defers repeat oath-taking of two elected localist lawmakers