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Thursday, October 13, 2016, 00:18

No compromise on the issue of national integrity

By Lau Nai-keung

Lau Nai-keung says that the offensive antics displayed by some legislators-elect when taking their oaths is only the beginning, and separatism has to be stamped out in LegCo.

Taking an oath is a very serious matter. This is why that for many important public positions there is a swearing-in procedure where office holders are required by law to pledge their allegiance to the country.

No compromise on the issue of national integrity According to the Basic Law, all elected legislators are stipulated to take an oath of allegiance to the Hong Kong SAR of the People’s Republic of China. Some dissident politicians, notably Wong Yuk-man and “Long Hair” Leung Kwok-hung previously tried to get around this. But ultimately they had to take it before they were allowed to attend Legislative Council meetings.

This time, some of the newly elected separatist lawmakers made it known they would do something during the ceremony to demonstrate their political defiance. It is part of their twisted logic that they want to join the system just to subvert it. On the other hand, the central government has also declared that no separatists should be allowed in the Legislative Council. One crucial way to identify a separatist is whether he or she will publicly swear his or her allegiance to the country’s special administrative region. This is the acid test.

To an evil person, public declaration of any kind means nothing. These separatists can still carry on with their old ways even after an open pledge to serve the SAR of the People’s Republic of China. After being formally admitted to the law-making body, whatever they say and do there is protected by law and free from prosecution. To get rid of them will require a two-thirds majority which is clearly impossible. The acid test is after all not that effective, although it still has to be there — even just for the record.

As expected, the seven elected separatists all displayed certain anomalies in the presentation of their oaths, but only the oaths of Youngspiration’s Yau Wai-ching and Sixtus “Baggio” Leung Chun-hang, as well as Professionals Guild’s Edward Yiu Chung-yim, were not accepted by LegCo Secretary General Kenneth Chen Wei-on, who oversaw the oath-taking. The dissidents questioned the authority of Kenneth Chen to do this but to no avail.

They then changed the subject by demanding deferments of the LegCo presidential election for a week over pro-establishment candidate Andrew Leung Kwan-yuen’s nationality even after he produced two official letters from the UK government confirming that he had renounced his UK nationality.

Rows ensued; the dissident lawmakers-elect then began to occupy the meeting chamber. Provisional chairman Leung Yiu-chung refused to chair the meeting to elect the president of the Legislative Council and his seat was occupied by Leung Kwok-hung, also known as “Long Hair”. Abraham Razack then assumed the chairmanship of the election proceedings. After several disruptions and moving the meeting to another room, Leung finally got elected by 38-0 — with most dissidents leaving with torn ballots.

In the meantime, there are four separatists who obviously have tinkered with the oath taking ceremony but were let through by the LegCo secretary general. Pro-establishment lawmakers declared they will not accept it. On the other hand, the rejected three also vowed to fight back. Either way, the story will not end here.

Clearly the dissidents are forcing the hands of the establishment for a showdown, and this has to be dealt with one way or the other. On the solemn issue of national integrity, there is no room for compromise. The separatists have just declared war. Separatism now has to be stamped out in the Legislative Council.

The author is a veteran current affairs commentator.

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