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Tuesday, November 29, 2016, 21:50

DOJ to seek judicial review on another lawmaker’s swearing-in

By Joseph Li

DOJ to seek judicial review on another lawmaker’s swearing-in
LegCo President Andrew Leung Kwan-yuen talks to the media at Legislative Council, Tamar Park, Hong Kong on Nov 29, 2016. (Roy Liu / China Daily)

HONG KONG – The Department of Justice (DOJ) will initiate a judicial review seeking to challenge the Legislative Council president’s earlier decision to allow fledgling lawmaker Lau Siu-lai to retake the oath – after she rendered it at a snail’s pace and paused after each word on Oct 12.

The DOJ is expected to file the litigation later this week or early next week in pursuance of Section 73 of the Legislative Council Ordinance.

My decision had legal basis. But the Basic Law (Article 104) has become much clearer after interpretation by the National People’s Congress Standing Committee and it is up to the court to make the final decision on the disputes

Andrew Leung Kwan-yuen, President, LegCo

The move follows the case of disgraced lawmakers Sixtus Leung Chung-hang and Yau Wai-ching , who were found to have declined to take the stipulated oath and were removed from their terms of office.

LegCo President Andrew Leung Kwan-yuen confirmed on Tuesday that LegCo had received a letter from the court stating the government’s intention to seek judicial review of the validity of Lau’s swearing-in.

Andrew Leung said that before the government formally starts the judicial proceedings he will ask LegCo’s legal services division to handle the matter.

As to why he allowed Lau to swear in again after Oct 12, Leung said he went through documentation, sought legal advice, referred to previous incidents and came to the conclusion that it was the best decision at that time.

"My decision had legal basis. But the Basic Law (Article 104) has become much clearer after interpretation by the National People’s Congress Standing Committee and it is up to the court to make the final decision on the disputes,” he said, responding to media questions on whether the oaths taken by other lawmakers would be subject to judicial review.

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The LegCo president made the remarks after hosting a cocktail reception for Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying, executive councilors and senior officials. In his welcoming remarks he said the occasion provided a relaxed atmosphere for officials to chat with the legislators.

Lawmaker Junius Ho Kwan-yiu, who is a former president of the Law Society of Hong Kong, believed the case of Sixtus Leung and Yau would definitely go to the Court of Final Appeal and trusted it would be handled expeditiously no later than early January 2017, adding that things would become clearer after the ultimate appeal.

Holden Chow Ho-ding, another lawmaker with a legal background, pointed out that City University of Hong Kong student Ivan Mok has already been granted leave for judicial review on Lau Siu-lai’s swearing-in. Chow said that in his view the court could combine the two cases as one if it considered the grounds put forth by both the DOJ and Mok to be exactly the same.

If the two cases are dealt with separately, Chow speculated, the DOJ will be granted an earlier court hearing as the department is in a position to hire top-notch counsel to handle the case, whereas Mok is still awaiting legal aid assistance to fight the case.

joseph@chinadailyhk.com
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