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Tuesday, November 8, 2016, 19:53

District councilors back Basic Law interpretation

By Dara Wang

District councilors back Basic Law interpretation
A group of District Council members express their support for the interpretation of Article 104 of the Basic Law by the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress in a press conference in Hong Kong on Nov 8, 2016. (Parker Zheng/China Daily)

HONG KONG - A total of 328 district councilors in Hong Kong voiced support for the interpretation by the nation's top legislature of the Basic Law , saying that it will help protect Hong Kong from separatism.

They also agreed that by such a move Hong Kong people could better understand the constitutional document.

328 district councilors said the interpretation will help protect Hong Kong from separatism

The interpretation of Article 104 of the Basic Law focuses on matters related to oath-taking procedures by all high-level public officers, legislators and judges.

Requirements were made to ensure anyone who wants to enter the city's governing institutions pledge their loyalty to the Basic Law as well as the Hong Kong SAR of the People’s Republic of China.

The councilors signed a joint statement on Tuesday to back the Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress’ (NPCSC) interpretation of the Basic Law.

Signatories were from all 18 district councils in Hong Kong, among over 450 councilors. More may come as the signature campaign continues, according to one of the organizers Chan Chung-ban, chairman of Kwun Tong District Council.

Chan said his fellow councilors strongly condemn the misconduct of two lawmakers-elect , Youngspiration's Sixtus Leung Chung-hang and Yau Wai-ching who advocated “Hong Kong independence”. They also used obscene language to insult the nation and Chinese people during their swearing-in ceremony on Oct 12.

A chaotic situation was initiated by the pair by storming the LegCo chamber with help from a number of “pan-democratic” lawmakers. Therefore, Chan said, the legislature's normal operations had already been paralyzed for nearly a month.

The signatories condemned their behavior. They hoped the interpretation will help return order to the chamber.

Until now, the pair have not apologized; instead they went to Taiwan to collaborate with separatism activist on the island. Chan said such behavior had crossed a line both politically and legally.

"Their remarks and behavior challenged the Basic Law of Hong Kong and the Constitution of the nation. This poses a grave threat to national sovereignty, integrity and security," Chan said.

Chan hailed the interpretation as timely. He also praised the detailed clarification of the interpretation itself, as it embodies common aspirations of Chinese people including compatriots in Hong Kong.

He admitted he had received complaints from local residents against the disgraced pair and strong support for the interpretation. Chan said this makes legal provisions in the Basic Law much clearer and will help LegCo restore normal operations to better serve society.

The interpretation clarified that swearing-in is a “prerequisite” for senior officials, lawmakers and judges to assume office. Article 104 of the Basic Law stipulates that when assuming office, all senior officials of the executive branch, members of the LegCo, and all judges and members of the judiciary in Hong Kong should “swear to uphold the Basic Law of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region of the People’s Republic of China and swear allegiance to the Hong Kong SAR of the People’s Republic of China”.

According to the interpretation, “to uphold the Basic Law” and to swear “allegiance to the Hong Kong SAR of the People’s Republic of China” is not just part of the Basic Law’s content. These are also concrete requirements and preconditions specified in the article for standing for election and taking public office.

Article 158 of the Basic Law says that the power of interpretation of the Basic Law should be vested in the NPCSC. Through such interpretations, the nation’s top legislature clarifies the exact and original meaning of certain terms and articles.

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