Staff members of four recently disqualified lawmakers have said that, if they are forced to repay their wages and subsidies, the president of the legislature responsible for initially approving the lawmakers’ oaths should take responsibility.
On Thursday, 40 members of staff and their supporters in the pro-democracy camp held a demonstration outside the Legislative Council. The LegCo Commission – formed mostly of pro-Beijing lawmakers – decided last week that a senior counsel would examine whether it should seek a sum of more than HK$10 million from the ousted legislators and their offices.
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.
‘Form of humiliation’
Protesters said that records of their work in the local community were present in government records. They said that asking for a repayment of their wages and subsidies would be a form of humiliation, and would amount to a denial of the ousted legislators’ and their offices’ efforts.
“You cannot erase our labour and contributions; you cannot trample on the dignity of the legislature,” they chanted.
The protesters also said that LegCo President Andrew Leung – listed as a defendant in the judicial reviews lodged by the government – should be held responsible for accepting the controversial oaths in the first place.
“The ruling overturned Andrew Leung’s decision,” said Lee Chi-wing, assistant to Edward Yiu. “If any wages are to be recovered, Leung should be the first to step forward.”
Chan Bo-wing, assistant to Leung Kwok-hung of the League of Social Democrats party, said that while she had previously been involved in fighting for workers’ rights, she never thought she would be in a position where she would “sweat but not see the fruits of her labour.”
“I think this sets a serious precedent,” said Chan. “It is as if a worker who had already been working for a year was suddenly told by their boss that there was a problem with their employment contract – that they would not only be fired, but that their entire year’s earnings and work would need to be recovered. This is totally unreasonable.”
Lee encouraged citizens to donate to the Justice Defence Fund, which was launched by the Professional Teachers Union to crowdfund the lawmakers’ legal fees.