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Saturday, July 15, 2017, 09:40
4 lawmakers disqualified
By Shadow Li and Luis Liu
Saturday, July 15, 2017, 09:40 By Shadow Li and Luis Liu

This photo combination shows (from left) Leung Kwok-hung, Law Kwun-chung, Lau Siu-lai and Yiu Chung-yim. (Photo by China Daily)

The High Court has thrown four lawmakers out of the Legislative Council for violating the legal requirements of oath-taking when they were being sworn in.

They are the second group of legislators to be disqualified for not taking the oath properly after two separatist lawmakers were removed last November.

In a written judgment handed down on Friday, Court of First Instance judge Thomas Au Hing-cheung said the oaths of the four lawmakers - Leung Kwok-hung, Edward Yiu Chung-yim, Lau Siu-lai and Nathan Law Kwun-chung - didn't follow the strict wording and solemnity as requested by law. Therefore, the court ordered the four to be disqualified with immediate effect. Their LegCo membership was deemed invalid from Oct 12, 2016, when the oath-taking ceremony was held.

The four lawmakers were found to have deviated from the statutory wording of the oath. This amounts to an unlawful swearing-in according to the National People's Congress Standing Committee's (NPCSC) interpretation of the Basic Law.

The court was told that during the solemn swearing-in, Leung was chanting political slogans; Yiu added words to his oath.

Lau read her oath with a six-second interval between each Chinese character deliberately, as she admitted, to profane the oath.

Law changed the tone of his voice when pledging allegiance to China to make it sound like a question.

The judicial review to challenge the eligibility of the four was moved by former chief executive Leung Chun-ying and Secretary for Justice Rimsky Yuen Kwok-keung last December.

Earlier in November 2016, two lawmakers were disqualified after they advocated independence and insulted the nation during the swearing-in in October. 

Outside the courtroom on Friday, a group of Hong Kong people applauded the court's decision.

Chief Executive Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor said she respects the judgment. She said the basis of a healthy executive-legislative relation is the rule of law.

LegCo President Andrew Leung Kwan-yuen said the LegCo Secretariat will send a letter to each of the disqualified lawmakers to inform them to move out of their offices in two weeks. The LegCo Commission will discuss later how much salary and remuneration the lawmakers should pay back.

He said previous votes cast in LegCo would not be affected.

The LegCo will have its summer recess from the end of July to early October. A by-election is expected within several months.

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