Disqualified localist lawmaker Yau Wai-ching has invited the other disqualified lawmakers to come together and discuss legal arguments for their potential appeals.
The Youngspiration party’s Yau and Baggio Leung were disqualified by the court last year after it found that they did not take their oaths properly. The highest court will decide whether to approve their application for a final appeal on August 25.
Last Friday, the court disqualified four other lawmakers, “Long Hair” Leung Kwok-hung, Nathan Law, Edward Yiu and Lau Siu-lai. Altogether, the six won more than 180,000 votes in the election last year.
The six were all disqualified after Beijing issued a rare interpretation of the Basic Law, Hong Kong’s de facto constitution, which said that lawmakers must take their oaths sincerely and accurately.
The press conference on Tuesday was the first time they have appeared together after four lawmakers were ousted last week. They entered the Legislative Council as private citizens.
“The nature of the cases against the six of us are the same – they should not be handled separately. Thus after we speak to our lawyers, we will try to talk to [the others] to come up with legal arguments,” Yau said.
Whilst Yau and Leung were challenged by the government soon after they took their oaths in October and disqualified a month later, the four others were challenged in December and disqualified only eight months later. The four participated in meetings and cast votes in the legislature during that time.
Baggio Leung said the public should not let themselves be deceived and divided anymore.
“This incident clearly showed… it does not matter to the Chinese Communist Party whether you think you are a democrat, someone supporting the rule of law, someone fighting for freedom, or someone fighting for independence or self-determination… you all want to take power away from the authoritarian regime,” he said.
Leung said if the Court of Final Appeal does not accept their application, it means they have lost the case and will likely have to pay the government’s legal fees, which the lawyers estimate to be between HK$8 and 10 million.
“We are quite certain we don’t have the ability to pay – declaring bankruptcy would seem to be the only way out,” he said.
Yau said it was too early to talk about by-elections. Anyone who has not obtained a bankruptcy discharge or paid creditors in full in the past five years cannot run for office.
Leung Kwok-hung said he was happy both Baggio Leung and Yau attended the press conference. He urged the public to donate and voice their opposition.
Currently, some 200 civil groups and 20,000 members of the public have signed a petition opposing the disqualifications.
Chief Executive Carrie Lam said it was the court’s decision that the disqualified lawmakers should pay all legal fees.
But Leung said the government should ask LegCo President Andrew Leung to pay the fees, since the president declared the oaths of the four lawmakers valid at the time – before being challenged by the government.
“Andrew Leung should be the one to pay, not us. Even if it was a wrong decision, it was his fault,” he said.
Leung said the government should promise that it would not try to disqualify more lawmakers. He claimed that if any pro-government citizens apply to the court to disqualify more lawmakers, the government may step in using the excuse of protecting public interests.
Lawmakers Eddie Chu and Cheng Chung-tai are facing an ongoing legal challenge filed by a member of the public to oust them from their seats.