Tuesday, 15 November 2016

High Court Rules Localist Pair Disqualified

Yau Wai-ching holds up a copy of the High Court's ruling in front of the media
Hong Kong's High Court has decided that two localists who were democratically elected in September are disqualified from becoming legislators because of the way they took their oaths of office last month.

Yau Wai-ching and Sixtus Baggio Leung Chung-hang of Youngspiration have vowed to appeal the ruling.

Mr Justice Thomas Au Hing-cheung said the pair's conduct during the October 12 ceremony meant they declined to take their oaths and must therefore vacate their seats.

The Youngspiration pair have been disqualified from Legco
During the oath-taking ceremony, they had carried banners that read "Hong Kong is not China" and said "Sheena" instead of "China", which many consider to be a derogatory term the Japanese used during World War II.

The judge also ruled Legco President Andrew Leung Kwan-yuen had no right to allow Yau and Leung to retake their oaths, adding that he came to this conclusion before the National People's Congress Standing Committee made its ruling last week.

Justice Au said according to the Oaths and Declarations Ordinance, the oath must be taken solemnly and sincerely and that oath takers are "bound in conscience to perform an act faithfully and truthfully", which he believed Yau and Leung did not do, nor did they recognize "one country, two systems".

The judge says Andrew Leung cannot decide on retaking oaths
The pair's lawyers had argued that the courts had no right to intervene in the affairs of the Legislative Council, citing the UK, where the parliamentary supremacy reigns and no constitution exists.

But the judge said in Hong Kong's case, the Basic Law is "supreme" instead of the legislature.

It sounds like Justice Au was at pains to clarify he arrived at this conclusion independently of the NPC Standing Committee, but one will never know since Beijing made its decision before the High Court.

Either way it's a sad state of affairs for democratically-elected legislators in Hong Kong. There have been previous cases of the Legco President allowing people to retake their oaths.

Now suddenly it's been decided this is not possible.

We understand Beijing is clamping down on anyone suggesting independence. We also have to stress this is a very small minority of people.

But this also indicates that many people here find it hard to accept that Hong Kong is a part of China, but at the same time, it is NOT China.

There's a big difference...

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