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Tuesday, October 25, 2016, 17:52

Leung adjourns second oath-taking

By Luis Liu
Leung adjourns second oath-taking
Andrew Leung Kwan-yuen, president of the Legislative Council, decided on Tuesday to delay the swearing-in of the two radical separatist lawmakers-elect until the High Court rules on a judicial review of the matter. (Parker Zheng / China Daily )

Legislative Council President Andrew Leung Kwan-yuen decided on Tuesday to adjourn the swearing-in of two disgraced legislators-elect until the High Court hands down a ruling on the ongoing judicial review on the oath-taking scandal.

He stressed that it was his “constitutional duty” to ensure the LegCo functions smoothly and serves society.

Leung has considered the constitutional requirements, the Rules of Procedure, the impact on LegCo operations and the interests of individual members as well as major developments since the oath-taking day. Consequently, he said he believed there were justifiable grounds to defer the oath affirmation for the two lawmakers-elect until a legal decision on the government’s judicial review was given.

During a press briefing at the LegCo Complex, Leung admitted it was a “difficult decision” as he hoped LegCo could work in a proper and orderly manner. He said it was an “unprecedented and unique” situation. But he had to take such action to protect the powers and functions of LegCo in accordance with the Basic Law.

Under Article 72(2) of the Basic Law, the LegCo president decides on the agenda for council meetings

Under Article 72(2) of the Basic Law, the LegCo president decides on the agenda for council meetings.

Earlier, 39 pro-establishment lawmakers made a statement that they will forestall the scheduled oath-retaking process at all costs if the president still gives Sixtus Leung Chung-hang and Yau Wai-ching the opportunity to retake the oath after their behavior had triggered a public outcry.

At a LegCo meeting last week, the 39-strong group staged a walk out in protest against the two lawmakers-elect as they had altered the oath’s text to insult the country and displayed separatist banners.

Thus, such a decision was made to continue the regular operations of LegCo, Andrew Leung said.

Sixtus Leung and Yau sparked a public outcry on Oct 12 during the swearing-in ceremony when they referred to China as “Shina”, a derogatory term used by Japanese invaders during World War II. Their oaths were eventually invalidated.

Pro-establishment lawmakers voiced support for Leung’s decision. Chairwoman of the city’s largest political party — the Democratic Alliance for the Betterment and Progress of Hong Kong — Starry Lee Wai-king said Andrew Leung had stood firm against separatist ideas in LegCo and tried to ensure the legislature operated smoothly.

Lawmaker Priscilla Leung Mei-fun said the two disgraced lawmakers-elect were unsuitable for retaking the oath. They had used insulting language while reading the text and already had two chances to take oath on Oct 12. Therefore, the pair’s conduct had been intolerable, she stressed.

Basic Law expert and law professor at the University of Hong Kong Albert Chen Hung-yee also backed the LegCo president’s decision.“Otherwise it will set a precedence that lawmakers-elect can take the oath for more than twice, copy cats will use such opportunities to advocate their political agenda,” Chen said.

Also on Tuesday, the government modified the request of the judicial review submitted to the High Court, seeking a ruling that Sixtus Leung and Yau had declined to take the LegCo oath and their seats in LegCo should be vacated

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