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Saturday, November 26, 2016, 00:04

Patten condemns actions of two disqualified lawmakers-elect

By Luis Liu

HONG KONG - The last British governor of Hong Kong Chris Patten blasted the two disqualified lawmakers-elect for demeaning their oath-taking ceremony and advocating “Hong Kong independence”.

Speaking at a luncheon at the city’s Foreign Correspondents’ Club, Patten condemned the young pro-independence lawmakers-elect who refused to swear allegiance to the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region of the People’s Republic of China and the SAR’s Basic Law.

Taking an oath is a “serious business”. Not only Hong Kong but all places in the world treat swearing-in ceremonies seriously. It must not be taken lightly, Patten stressed.

The incumbent chancellor of the University of Oxford said the pair was naive to have turned it into “a sort of student game”.

He said he had taken oaths on many occasions, such as in the British parliament and the European Union. Every time he would swear as solemnly as he could. “Such antics (by the two disqualified lawmakers-elect) should not take place in a mature society like Hong Kong,” he said.

Meanwhile, he cautioned the separatists in Hong Kong to stop mixing up the aspiration for democracy with pro-independence advocacy, which is "dishonest, dishonorable and reckless".

He made the point by citing a passage in the Joint Declaration signed between China and the United Kingdom in 1984 over the handover of Hong Kong. This guarantees the territorial integrity of China and national unity including the SAR and the rest of the country.

(Hong Kong) Independence is not going to happen

Chris Patten, chancellor of the University of Oxford and last British governor of Hong Kong

“(Hong Kong) Independence is not going to happen,” Patten warned. He said such advocacies, if left unattended, will exacerbate existing divisions in Hong Kong and harm the SAR government’s ability to tackle the problems facing the city.

Thus, he advised people concerned about Hong Kong’s future to get back to talking about governance and democracy and “eschew all the stuff about independence”.

He also discussed the interpretation by China’s top legislature – the Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress (NPCSC) – over the Basic Law to clarify obligations on those taking an oath of office in the city.

Patten said the move helped reinforce the concept of solemnity of swearing-in for public office in Hong Kong. He assured that with such a move the matter will still be dealt with by Hong Kong's legal system - where disputes are heard and resolved by local courts. The procedure was both constitutional and in accordance with the law, he said.

Moreover, Patten said he has full confidence about the freedoms Hong Kong people enjoy and the city's rule of law in future.

The two separatist lawmakers-elect, Sixtus Leung Chung-hang and Yau Wai-ching, made headlines in the media around the world last month. They altered the oath’s stipulated text, refused to swear allegiance to the SAR and the Basic law. They also used foul language to insult the nation and demonstrated banners reading“Hong Kong is not China”, during their oath-taking on Oct 12.

The High Court earlier ruled that the pair should vacate their seats because they violated the Basic Law and the Oaths and Declarations Ordinance. The two filed an appeal and will hear the verdict in the next few days.

luisliu@chinadailyhk.com
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