HK seeks to ban third pro-democracy member of parliament

01-Dec-2016 Intellasia | The Guardian | 6:00 AM Print This Post

Government to file lawsuit against Lau Siu-lai, who took 10 minutes to read her 77-word oath of allegiance

The Hong Kong government will seek to ban a third member of the city’s parliament, expanding a campaign to remove pro-democracy advocates after two pro-independence legislators were barred from taking their seats.

The government will file a lawsuit against pro-democracy Lau Siu-lai this week or early next week, alleging she was not sincere when she took the oath of allegiance last month.

The move comes after a Hong Kong court barred Yau Wai-ching and Sixtus “Baggio” Leung from taking their seats after the pair launched a dramatic anti-China protest during a swearing-in ceremony.

Beijing and the Hong Kong government have taken an increasingly hostile stance towards elements of the city’s democracy movement. Elections in September saw six candidates who support self-determination or outright independence swept into the legislature. After Yau and Leung’s provocative protests, Beijing intervened, amending Hong Kong’s mini-constitution in the most direct intervention in the city’s politics since Britain handed Hong Kong over to China in 1997.

Lau read the oath, which requires lawmakers to swear allegiance to the “the Hong Kong special administrative region of the People’s Republic of China”, in slow motion, taking 10 minutes to read the 77-word declaration. That attempt was invalidated, but she was allowed to retake the oath and eventually sworn in.

In the court ruling banning Yau and Leung, the judge said the pair “manifestly refused… to solemnly, sincerely and truly bind themselves” to Hong Kong’s laws, citing statements the judge said showed they made “a wilful and deliberate attempt… to insult China”.

Although Lau was able to retake her oath, she said on Facebook “a slow reading of the oath shows that it was fabricated”. Those words may come back to haunt her if a judge determines she did not solemnly declare allegiance to China, thereby qualifying her to be removed from her role.

The widening scope of the lawsuits could imperil other lawmakers who staged protests during the swearing-in ceremony. While many read the required text, some added language that could expose them to government lawsuits.

One lawmaker shouted: “Democratic self-determination, autocracy will die,” at the end of his oath, while others quoted Gandhi or held signs, in a more subtle jab at Chinese authorities.

Britain handed Hong Kong to China under a framework known as “one country, two systems”, where the territory was allowed to maintain freedom of expression and an independent judiciary, liberties that do not exist in mainland China.


Category: Hong Kong

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