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Friday, November 4, 2016, 09:44

Fate of two separatists rests with High Court

By Willa Wu

Fate of two separatists rests with High Court

A lawyer representing the government over judicial review to disqualify the pair. (Parker Zheng /China Daily)

The fate of the two separatist lawmakers-elect , who made a mockery of the official oathtaking and insulted the Chinese nation , is now in the hands of Hong Kong’s High Court.

On Thursday, the court reserved judgment on a judicial review challenging the qualifications of Yau Wai-ching and Sixtus Leung Chung-hang to serve as members of the Legislative Council.

Justice Thomas Au Hing-cheung said he would rule on the case “as soon as possible” but he gave no specific date.

In Hong Kong the Basic Law is supreme and the principle of nonintervention could not come before the law.

Benjamin Yu Yuk-hoi, a lawyer representing the SAR government

The court accepted the petition from the Department of Justice, which contends that the two separatists had disqualified themselves from office by refusing to “take the oath as required” under the Basic Law.

Section 21 of the Oaths and Declarations Ordinance stipulates that elected legislators who decline or neglect to take oaths duly requested should be disqualified from taking office, or they should vacate their seats if they have already assumed office.

Senior Counsel Benjamin Yu Yuk-hoi,one of the four lawyers representing the government, said the pair’s behavior, including inserting the words “Hong Kong nation” in the oath and using foul language in pronouncing the country’s name, showed unwillingness to take the oath as required. He said they had also used the occasion to promote “Hong Kong independence”.

On seeking judicial intervention in LegCo operations, Yu argued that in Hong Kong the Basic Law is supreme and the principle of non-intervention could not come before the law. He referred to Article 104 of the Basic Law, which requires that when assuming office, LegCo members swear to uphold the Basic Law and swear allegiance to the Hong Kong SAR of the People’s Republic of China.

Philip Dykes, a veteran lawyer, represents Yau, and Hectar Pun Hei represents Leung. Both Dykes and Pun argued that it was the LegCo president’s prerogative to disqualify lawmakers for bad behavior, and not the courts.

Judge Au asked Dykes if the LegCo president made no decision, who should take responsibility for solving the problem.

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