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Tuesday, November 8, 2016, 01:48

Lawmakers, legal experts back NPCSC’s stand on Article 104

By Dara Wang and Willa Wu

Lawmakers, legal experts back NPCSC’s stand on Article 104

The first meeting of the sixth Legislative Council sees legislators-elect take their oaths in the chamber of LegCo Complex on Oct 12. (Parker Zheng / China Daily)

Lawmakers, legal professionals and prominent political leaders in the city hailed the top legislature’s interpretation to Article 104 of the Basic Law as timely. They said it will help to resolve recent political controversies which have plagued the city.

A majority of LegCo members, 39 out of 70, voiced their support in a joint statement on Monday.

It will assist the city’s administrative, legislative and judicial bodies to accurately understand and implement the Basic Law

Joint statement issued by 39 LegCo members

The legislators, including NPC deputy Martin Liao Cheung-kong and Starry Lee Wai-king, chairwomen of Hong Kong’s largest political party — the Democratic Alliance for the Betterment and Progress of Hong Kong, said in a statement the interpretation is necessary and timely. They added that it will assist the city’s administrative, legislative and judicial bodies to accurately understand and implement the Basic Law.

The lawmakers expect the interpretation will play an important role in curbing local separatism entering the Legislative Council. In accordance with the interpretation, they believe there should be no arrangements for Yau Wai-ching and Sixtus Leung Chung-hang to retake the oaths after the pair made a mockery of the swearing-in ceremony and insulted the nation and Chinese people on Oct 12 .

LegCo President Andrew Leung Kwan-yuen said the interpretation is necessary for the purposes of upholding national security, sovereignty and territorial integrity. He believed it would reduce future controversy arising from oathtaking.

Leung expects the High Court to hand down judgments on cases involving Article 104 soon, so LegCo can return to normal operations.

Without clearly stipulated requirements of oath-taking by the interpretation, it may take a long time for local courts to handle the case and perceived appeals concerning the disqualification of the two separatist lawmakers-elect, legislator and solicitor Horace Cheung Kwok-kwan told reporters, in an appearance with other legal professionals on Monday afternoon.

“If the case drags on, dysfunction in LegCo will continue, and Hong Kong society will pay the cost,” Cheung said.

The interpretation sets out general principles to help understand Article 104. The local judicial system still carries out the role to uphold the rule of law and make judgments in accordance with the Basic Law. Judicial independence in Hong Kong is unaffected and can co-exist with the NPCSC interpretation , Cheung said.

Lawyer Elizabeth Yang Ling said the words and deeds of Yau and Sixtus Leung openly violated oath-taking provisions in the Basic Law. It posed a grave threat to national sovereignty and security. As a member of the Law Society of Hong Kong, Yang believed that the court would make a decisive judgment on the case of the duo based on the interpretation.

Chan Wing-kee, chairman of Federation of Hong Kong Guangdong Community Organizations and a member of the Standing Committee of the National Committee of Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference, said the interpretation represents the will of all Chinese people, including those in Hong Kong.

The clear explanations of the requirements, principles and significance of the oath of office stipulated in Article 104 of the Basic Law will help fend off separatists. It will also help maintain the stability and future development of Hong Kong, Chan added.

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