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Sunday, November 6, 2016, 22:27

Envoy briefs on legal interpretation

By Luis Liu

HONG KONG - Beijing’s top envoy in Hong Kong briefed local members of the State legislature and top political advisers on Sunday about deliberations over a potential interpretation of an article in the city’s Basic Law.

The move concerns Article 104, which relates to swearing-in procedures for public officials, lawmaker and judges in the special administrative region, and is expected to prevent separatists from paralyzing the Legislative Council.

A vote on the draft interpretation is likely to come on Monday before a session of the National People’s Congress Standing Committee (NPCSC) closes in Beijing.

Zhang Xiaoming, director of the Central People's Government’s Liaison Office in the Hong Kong SAR, said on Sunday that pro-independence advocacy in LegCo goes against the “One Country, Two Systems” policy, according to Chan Wing-kee, a CPPCC National Committee member from Hong Kong who was at the briefing.

Article 158 states that the power of interpretation of Basic Law should be vested in the NPCSC. The top legislative body may clarify the exact and original meaning of a term or article. Zhang said the interpretation will provide a guideline for future oath-taking ceremonies and for courts, according to Chan.

The move comes after two lawmakers-elect — Sixtus Leung Chung-hang and Yau Wai-ching — altered their LegCo oath and used foul language to insult China during their swearing-in on Oct 12. A judicial review sought by the SAR government that demands they vacate their seats is ongoing.

Brave Chan Yung, an NPC deputy and vice-chairman of Hong Kong’s largest political party, the Democratic Alliance for the Betterment and Progress of Hong Kong, said the interpretation will help to prevent separatists from affecting Hong Kong’s governance.

In the 19 years since Hong Kong's reunification with the motherland, the NPCSC had made interpretations on Basic Law four times.

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