The four recently disqualified lawmakers have said it would be “ridiculous” if the Legislative Council asks them to pay back their wages and subsidies dating back to October 2016.
The LegCo Commission decided last week that a senior counsel would be hired to look into whether it should seek a sum of more than HK$10 million from the ousted legislators. The body, mostly formed of pro-Beijing lawmakers, considers administrative matters at the legislature.
“Long Hair” Leung Kwok-hung said they had been exercising their roles until they were disqualified by the court last month.
“It is wrong to ask for our wages back simply on the basis of this,” he said. “Our assistants, paid from the subsidies, have also been serving Hong Kong people… They are also victims.”
The court deemed that their oaths of office on October 12 last year were not taken solemnly and accurately, as per Beijing’s interpretation of Basic Law Article 104. Therefore, they were never considered to be lawmakers.
Leung said that responsibility should sit with LegCo President Andrew Leung, since he was the one who originally ruled that their oaths were valid, allowing them to take their positions.
Aside from the four, Andrew Leung was also listed as a defendant in the judicial reviews lodged by the government. Leung Kwok-hung criticised Andrew Leung for not personally defending his decision in court.
“Andrew Leung is the first to lose as a result of the lawsuit, everything started from [his decision],” Leung Kwok-hung said. “The LegCo Commission should ask about the responsibility of the president – why did he make mistakes in administering the oaths…?”
‘Heart of a snake and a scorpion’
Chief Executive Carrie Lam has said that it should be a decision for the LegCo as to whether to ask for the wages and subsidies back, and not a decision to be made by the administration.
Leung Kwok-hung called her stance “hypocritical.”
“She should stop pretending to be a sheep, she has a heart of a snake and a scorpion – she could have stopped this… The government could say it is in the public interest – the funds are given by the government – if she does not ask for it back, then it will not happen,” he said.
He questioned whether the government will continue “political suppression” by forcing them to declare bankruptcy, which would effectively bar them from standing in any by-elections.
“Does she want to kill us by this blade, called the Legislative Council?” he asked.
Service agreed and provided
Another ousted lawmaker Edward Yiu said that, under contract law, they have provided a service with the agreement of both sides, and they must therefore receive compensation.
Democratic Party lawmaker Andrew Wan said the four were not able to choose to stop working before the court gave a ruling, thus they exercised their roles and should not be asked to pay any money back.
Ted Hui, also of the party, questioned if their votes, speeches and documents should be voided, if they were asked to pay back the sum. If not, he said, they should not be asked return any money.
Some pro-Beijing lawmakers have suggested that the four should pay back their wages but should not be required to pay back the subsidies for their offices and staff.
Social welfare sector lawmaker Shiu Ka-chun has said the suggestion was also “hypocritical.”
“On the surface this is a compromise, but – in fact – this is a subtle stab.”
Leung Kwok-hung has said he has asked his lawyer to file an appeal as soon as possible.
Last week, Andrew Leung said in an interview that there was no rush to ask for the wages and subsidies back until all legal proceedings have finished.