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Thursday, October 13, 2016, 00:57

Lawmakers blasted over stunt during swearing-in

By Luis Liu, Willa Wu and Shadow Li

Veteran lawmaker Andrew Leung from industrial sector elected new president.

Lawmakers blasted over stunt during swearing-in
Andrew Leung Kwan-yuen (right), newly elected president of the Legislative Council and chairman of the Business and Professional Alliance for Hong Kong, and Regina Ip Lau Suk-yee, legislator and chairwomen of the New People's Party, meet the media in the LegCo Complex in Tamar on Wednesday. (Roy Liu / China Daily)

HONG KONG - Localist lawmakers-elect were strongly condemned on Wednesday for pulling a public stunt during a solemn swearing-in as legislators by changing the wording and twisting the pronunciation of China to insult the country.

The commissioner for oaths , Secretary General of the Secretariat of the Legislative Council (LegCo) Kenneth Chen Wei-on, said he was unable to confirm the swearing-in of three lawmakers-elect – Yau Wai-ching, Sixtus Leung Chung-hang and Edward Yiu Chung-yim, after they deliberately strayed from the stipulated oath.

Both Yau and Leung pronounced China as "Shina", an insulting term historically used by Japanese militarists. They also tried to fool around with the commissioner for oaths by speaking English at a relatively fast speed. Yau even used bad language in her oath when she was saying "the People's Republic of China".

With their swearing-in process incomplete, Yau, Leung and Yiu were unable to vote for the new LegCo president, a process that occurred on Wednesday afternoon. Veteran industrial sector lawmaker Andrew Leung Kwan-yuen was elected president of the sixth term LegCo.

Andrew Leung, as the president of LegCo, will decide whether the oaths taken by the three were valid in the next council meeting on Oct 19. If Leung finds it to be invalid, the three lawmakers-elect will need to retake the oath.

Taking the oath is a solemn and serious procedure, and it should not be used as an opportunity for expressing political views

Starry Lee Wai-king, lawmaker and DAB chairwoman

Starry Lee Wai-king, chairwoman of the legislature's largest party, the Democratic Alliance for the Betterment and Progress of Hong Kong (DAB), said taking the oath is a solemn and serious procedure, and it should not be used as an opportunity for expressing political views.

She said her party supported Chen’s decision not to acknowledge the oaths of the three localists. Lee added that the DAB would scrutinize the video of the proceedings and seek legal advice on whether the oaths taken by the three abided by the Basic Law and LegCo’s Rules of Procedure.

Legislator Priscilla Leung Mei-fun, also a practicing lawyer, condemned the localists’ behavior. Leung said she had already received complaints from the public about it.

Veteran political analyst and Basic Law researcher Song Sio-chong said the three lawmakers-elect have to be sworn in again in strict accordance with the oath; otherwise they will violate the Basic Law in terms of assuming office and cannot be allowed to attend LegCo meetings and voting.

According to Article 104 of the Basic Law, when assuming office, the Chief Executive, principal officials, members of the Executive Council and of the Legislative Council, judges of the courts at all levels and other members of the judiciary in the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region must, in accordance with the law, swear to uphold the Basic Law of the Hong Kong SAR and swear allegiance to the Hong Kong SAR of the People's Republic of China.

As lawmakers had all pledged to "uphold the Basic Law" in their application forms, defiant behaviorwhich deviates from the oath may also violate Article 103 of the Electoral Affairs Commission (Electoral Procedure) (Legislative Council) Regulation, in which a person who, in an election-related document, knowingly makes a false statement, will be liable to a maximum imprisonment for six months, Songnoted.

If a LegCo member was sentenced to imprisonment for more than a month, the legislature has the right to decide whether the imprisoned lawmaker can continue his or her membership through a vote, Song explained, citing regulations.

If two thirds of the LegCo members decided to vote him or her out, the membership ends immediately, Song said. If one was sentenced to more than three months in prison, he or she automatically loses the chance to run for re-election, Song warned.

Meanwhile, Song said the conduct of the three localist lawmakers-elect, who were contemptuous of the solemn swearing-in ceremony , shows the consequences resulting from some political misconceptions in Hong Kong, such as casting irrational revenge votes.

There had been calls for disgruntled voters to cast their ballots for opposition candidates who vowed to use all tricks to irritate and provoke the SAR or central government.

Now chaos has broken out on Day 1 of the sixth LegCo, Song said he hoped Hong Kong people realized the grave consequences for the city and its people if similar behavior continues.

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