Ousted localist lawmaker Baggio Leung Chun-hang has written to the Legislative Council’s secretariat saying that it should wait until a ruling by the Court of Final Appeal, before asking him and another lawmaker to pay back HK$1.86 million in salaries and subsidies.
Leung and Yau Wai-ching were challenged by the government after they protested during their oaths of allegiance, using a term some deemed an insult to China. They lost the case at the Court of First Instance and the Court of Appeal. The Legislative Council then demanded they pay back HK$929,573 each on or before Monday.
But they have since stated that they will file an appeal to the highest court of Hong Kong by the end of this month. Leung wrote that whether they needed to pay back the sum should only be decided after the judicial process has been completed.
Secondly, Leung argued that the sum the Council was asking for was “extremely unreasonable” even if they lost the final legal battle.
He said the Court of First Instance ruled that their status as lawmakers was only cancelled on October 12 – the first meeting of the Council when they took their failed oaths. Therefore, the salaries they were paid between October 1 and 11 should belong to them by law.
On the subsidies that were paid in advance, Leung said they were for the operation of lawmakers’ offices and expenses for information technology usage, that it was an one-off advance payment, since reimbursement would take time and cause a shortage of funds at the start of the Council session.
Leung argued that the reimbursable expenses between October 1 and 11 as a lawmaker should not be taken back.
“I kindly ask the secretariat to be just, to consider carefully, to defend the dignity of the Legislative Council,” he wrote.
Previously, lawmakers and a group of lawmakers’ assistants have criticised the decision to take back the sum, saying that it would set a “very bad precedent.”