The Court of Appeal has rejected a request by “Long Hair” Leung Kwok-hung to summon a Peking University law professor as an expert witness in his appeal against his disqualification as a lawmaker.
Zhang Qianfan, a professor of law and government at the university, wrote in a report that China’s top legislature had no power to modify or add new items to the Basic Law, Hong Kong’s de facto constitution.
Leung was disqualified by a court last year following an interpretation by the Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress which stated that lawmakers must take their oaths of office accurately and solemnly. Leung had criticised it as a new addition to the Basic Law, which the committee did not have the power to add.
The Court of Appeal said in a written ruling that Leung should have submitted the expert report during the Court of First Instance hearing which disqualified him, and said Zhang’s submission would not help with the Court of Appeal’s hearings. The submission was thus rejected.
In response, Leung said the Court of Appeal’s decision was unreasonable. He said it took time to obtain legal aid from the government, and it had to be done before he could afford to seek expert opinion from Zhang.
“Even the Legal Aid Department agreed that I should receive help using public funds,” he said.
He said a Basic Law interpretation was rare, and it was unprecedented for the government to file a judicial review to disqualify him after the interpretation.
“No-one knows how this works at all,” he said, adding that any prominent legal opinion should be considered.
“The expert’s opinion is very simple. The National People’s Congress has the power to conduct an interpretation… but even so, he said the common law system [in Hong Kong] should be used to interpret the Basic Law, instead of using the continental law system [in the mainland].”
He accused the Court of Appeal of rejecting the submission because it did not want the public to read the expert’s views.
“If my submission was accepted, I could still be defeated after the appeal. But it is not the case now – where’s the principle of rule of law?” he said.
Leung will have to pay around HK$182,360 in legal fees. His appeal will be heard on November 28 and 29.
Another ousted lawmaker Lau Siu-lai has retracted her appeal against her disqualification after consulting the pro-democracy camp. A by-election may be triggered in the Kowloon West constituency as early as the end of this year.