The two ousted localist lawmakers – Baggio Leung and Yau Wai-ching – have said they should only repay part of their wages to the Legislative Council, as Tuesday’s deadline approaches.
The lawmakers were ejected from Hong Kong’s legislature over the controversial way in which they took their oaths of office. In a rare move, Beijing handed down a interpretation of the city’s de facto constitution, leading a court to rule that they were never lawmakers to begin with.
They were each asked to pay back HK$929,573 in wages and subsidies given to them since they took office. The duo failed in their final legal appeal against their disqualifications last month.
Yau and Leung said in letters to the LegCo secretariat that the court ruled that were not lawmakers from October 12 last year – the day they failed to take their oaths of office. Thus, their salaries between October 1 and 11 should be theirs to keep.
They also said that the subsidies were a one-off sum given to lawmakers to purchase office utilities and cover salaries for their assistants, and their subsidy was used to purchase equipment.
“Even if my lawmaker status was violently stripped by the government using unjust means, the expenses to be reimbursed should not be included in the amount to be paid back,” they said in one of the letters.
They said it would be more appropriate to return the equipment they have bought and the related invoices, as part of their effort to return the money.
“I urge the LegCo to be fair and to consider carefully, to defend the dignity that it has left,” the letter read.
The LegCo secretariat said if the pair fail to return the funds by Tuesday, the LegCo Commission – an administrative body formed of lawmakers – will ask lawyers to take legal action.
If the case goes to court and the duo are unable or unwilling to pay, they may have to declare bankruptcy. Individuals subject to an ongoing bankruptcy orders cannot run for office.