Three rejections and multiple deviations mark Hong Kong Legislative Council swearing-in

By Tony Cheung, Joyce Ng and Stuart Lau / October 12, 2016 / South China Morning Post

A blue banner bearing the words “Hong Kong is not China” took centre stage as two localist lawmakers used it as a protest prop to pledge loyalty to the “Hong Kong nation” at the opening of the new Legislative Council on Wednesday.

The pair, and a third lawmaker who inserted his own words into the official script, saw their oaths rejected. Four localist and seven pan-democratic legislators protesting similarly played it safer by either shouting slogans or making extra statements before or after taking their oaths as the city’s 70 lawmakers were sworn in.

The oaths of Youngspiration’s Yau Wai-ching and Sixtus Baggio Leung Chun-hang, as well as that of Professionals Guild’s Edward Yiu Chung-yim, were declared invalid by Legco secretary-general Kenneth Chen Wei-on who oversaw the ceremony before Andrew Leung Kwan-yuen was elected president.

Chen ruled that the trio could not participate or vote in Legco meetings and the election of their president on Wednesday afternoon, but his decision was challenged by pan-democrats and localists. University of Hong Kong principal law lecturer Eric Cheung Tat-ming also questioned his action.

Professor Lau Siu-kai, a former top policy adviser to the government, declined to comment on Chen’s ruling. But echoing pro-establishment lawmakers’ criticisms, Lau warned of a backlash from Beijing over the display of the “Hong Kong is not China” banner.

“It showed that the localists are eager to show their rejection of China in a way that wouldn’t directly contravene the city’s mini-constitution Basic Law … I think the central government would be very unhappy about it,” he told the Post.

The legislature’s first meeting started at 11am on Wednesday, and there was not too much drama until Yiu, representing the architectural, surveying, planning and landscape sector, took his oath in Cantonese.

After stating “being a member of the Legislative Council of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region of the People’s Republic of China”, Yiu added: “I will uphold procedural justice in Hong Kong, fight for genuine universal suffrage and serve the city’s sustainable development” before he moved on to swear to uphold the Basic Law.

After Chen asked him to take the oath again, Yiu again added his own phrases at the end of the official wording. Chen then said he “could not oversee the oath taking” for Yiu and asked the newly-elected lawmaker to return to his seat.

About 15 minutes later, it was Sixtus Leung’s turn. Instead of sticking to the official oath, Leung vowed in English to “pay earnest efforts in keeping guard over the interest of the Hong Kong nations” (sic). Read more…

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