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Tuesday, October 18, 2016, 00:24

Lawyers appeal to LegCo president over disgraced lawmakers

By Luis Liu
Lawyers appeal to LegCo president over disgraced lawmakers
Lawmakers (from left to right) Horace Cheung Kwok-kwan, Junius Ho Kwan-yiu, Priscilla Leung Mei-fun and Holden Chow Ho-ding, who are all lawyers, submit a letter to the Legislative Council president. They want serious consideration to be made on whether to give another chance to the three lawmakers-elect who staged a stunt at their oath-taking ceremony last Wednesday. (Parker Zheng / China Daily)

HONG KONG - Four legal professional lawmakers and a group of fellow lawyers submitted a letter to the Legislative Council president on Monday, urging serious consideration of the three disgraced lawmakers-elect who staged outrageous stunts during their oath-taking ceremonies .

They cautioned LegCo President Andrew Leung Kwan-Yuen to make a decision in strict accordance with the law if the three lawmakers-elect refuse to obey the rules.

The co-signing lawmakers urged Leung also to review some other lawmakers' behavior when they were taking the oath last Wednesday, and question whether their behavior also violated the law.

The 11-strong group led by legislator Priscilla Leung Mei-fun also warned the two separatist lawmakers-elect, Sixtus Leung Chung-hang and Yau Wai-ching . Yau was widely criticized for using foul language and derogatory words during the swearing-in.

LegCo President Andrew Leung has said he will make the relevant rulings today (Tuesday) in strict accordance with LegCo’s Rules of Procedures

Priscilla Leung urged Yau to apologize before making any requests to take the oath again.

Only by such moves can LegCo emphasize the importance of its rules and standards to the public and future legislators, Priscilla Leung said.

The other co-signing lawmakers were Junius Ho Kwan-yiu, Holden Chow Ho-ding and Horace Cheung Kwok-kwan.

However, the two radical legislators-elect said they will not apologize for the way they took their oaths.

LegCo President Andrew Leung has said he will make the relevant rulings today (Tuesday) in strict accordance with LegCo’s Rules of Procedures. He said he hoped relevant lawmakers-elect would take public opinion seriously.

A possible request to the Department of Justice will be considered if the LegCo president cannot address their concerns, Priscilla Leung said.

Solicitor and lawmaker Holden Chow cited a previous case in the United Kingdom in 2011 when Gerry Adams, a politician supporting independence for Northern Ireland, had made British parliamentary history. Adams refused to swear allegiance to the UK after he had been elected to parliament. He later resigned as lawmaker-elect following his rebellious behavior.

Chow hoped the LegCo president can refer to the case in the UK when dealing with the issue in Hong Kong.

In a previous case in Hong Kong in 2004, judge Michael Hartmann rejected radical lawmaker “Long Hair” Leung Kwok-hung’s challenge on whether one could alter the text of the oath for certain reasons.

Barrister and Executive Councilor of CA Legal Exchange Foundation Kacee Ting Wong said Hartmann has made several points very clear. These are that any lawmaker who takes an oath should consider the necessity, legality, constitutionality of the full text of the oath, and consider the integrity, uniformity and procedural rules of the oath-taking ceremony.

Ting said the ruling by Hartmann set a clear guideline for possible judicial reviews which may be launched by the relevant lawmakers-elect.

However, he felt the launch of such a judicial review, which could trigger by-elections of the posts if the lawmakers-elect are disqualified, could drag on for as long as 10 years. This would waste considerable public resources and lead to social conflict.

Another lawyer-turned-legislator, Paul Tse Wai-chun, has called for a walk-out protest on Wednesday if the two radical lawmakers-elect do not apologize.

According to Article 104 of the Basic Law, when assuming office, LegCo members must, in accordance with the law, swear to uphold the Basic Law and swear allegiance to the Hong Kong SAR of the People's Republic of China.

Meanwhile, any person who declines or neglects to take an oath which he is required to take, if he has not entered on his office,will be disqualified from entering on it, according to the Section 21 of the Oaths and Declarations Ordinance.

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