The High Court has suspended a judicial review to disqualify Hong Kong opposition lawmakers Eddie Chu and Cheng Chung-tai after it rejected the applicant’s attempt to resubmit his late deposit.
In March, pro-Beijing solicitor Barry Chin handed in applicant Lo King-yeung’s judicial review request to oust lawmakers Chu and Cheng. Taking their oaths on the podium of the legislative chamber last October, Chu shouted “democratic self-determination, tyranny will end,” while Cheng shouted “a constitution by all people, make a new covenant.”
The High Court ordered Lo to pay an initial HK$20,000 deposit. But the cheque he sent to the court bounced because it was made out to the Hong Kong government and not the court.
He made a second attempt to pay in July, but his cheque again contained the same mistake, and was not accepted.
Lo’s counsel Lawrence Ma – a member of Hong Kong’s largest pro-Beijing party – told the court that the applicant had failed to pay the sum because he was not familiar with legal procedures.
Chu and Cheng maintained that the applicant caused delays without reason and thus asked the court to reject the application.
Mr Justice Thomas Au gave a written ruling on Monday morning in which he dismissed Lo’s latest application to pay costs: “I conclude that there has been an unreasonable delay by the plaintiff to apply for directions to give security for costs… and there are no good reasons to justify an exercise of discretion to allow him to do so now,” Au wrote.
Au ruled that the applicant will have to pay for the legal fees of defendants.
Chu said outside the court that he believed the case stemmed from Beijing’s controversial Basic Law interpretation, was an unreasonable one. He said under current legislation, the case cannot be restarted.
Previously, six pro-democracy lawmakers were retroactively disqualified by the court for not taking their oaths properly, following the interpretation which stipulates that lawmakers must take the oaths solemnly and accurately.
“I myself and my team are relieved to a certain extent. But the whole point the central government using the interpretation on Basic Law as an excuse to attack Hong Kong legislature and to rewrite the result of the last Legislative Council election – these damages have not been recovered,” he said.
He added that the six disqualified legislators face huge financial burdens and by-elections have yet to be scheduled.
“There is still nothing to be happy about,” he said.
Cheng said he believed they were only “lucky” since the applicant made mistakes in procedures.
“The regime will use all ways to suppress opposition pro-democracy lawmakers politically,” he said. “I hope the public care about the situation of the disqualified lawmakers.”