High Court disqualifies 4 lawmakers over altered oaths controversy

(L-R) Law, Leung, Lau, and Yiu at a previous court appearance. Photo (for illustration): Leung Kwok-hung via Facebook.

Four democratically elected lawmakers have just been disqualified from their Legislative Council seats in a landmark court case, stripping the opposition camp of its veto power.

Pro-democracy legislators “Long Hair” Leung Kwok-hung, Nathan Law, Lau Siu-lai, and Edward Yiu, who netted a combined 185,727 votes between them during the September LegCo elections, have all been ousted from their seats following a judicial review filed by former Chief Executive CY Leung’s administration.

Leung and Justice Secretary Rimsky Yuen filed the suits in December to remove the lawmakers from LegCo. The writs accused the lawmakers of failing to take their oaths of office in a “sincere and solemn” manner last October, as per an interpretation of the Basic Law delivered by Beijing in November.

High Court Judge Thomas Au said today in a written judgement that the Basic Law interpretation was “binding” and that “the word ‘solemn’ bears the commonly understood meaning of being dignified and formal.”

 

Veteran lawmaker Long Hair called for universal suffrage underneath a yellow umbrella (the most iconic symbol of the Umbrella Movement) during his oath taking, and tore a scroll representing a controversial Communist Party ruling.

Former Umbrella Movement protest leader Nathan Law said during the swearing-in ceremony that he was being “forced” to take the oath by a “authoritarian regime”,  then briefly raised the intonation of the word “republic” when saying the “People’s Republic of China”.

Edward Yiu, from the Architectural, Surveying, Planning and Landscape functional constituency, added a pledge to “fight for universal suffrage and serve the city’s sustainable development”, while Lau Siu-lai took her oath in “slow motion” by pausing for six seconds between every word.

The quartet’s disqualification follows the highly publicized ousting of two localist lawmakers, Baggio Leung and Yau Wai-ching, whose oath-takings involved anti-China banners and usage of derogatory wartime slurs for China. While LegCo President Andrew Leung decided to allow the pair to retake their oaths, the controversy surrounding them led to chaos and eventually, Beijing’s interpretation.

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