The High Court disqualified legislators Nathan Law Kwun-chung, Leung Kwok-hung, Lau Siu-lai, Edward Yiu from office today, stripping the pro-democracy camp of a key Legco veto power as a result.
The court ruled the four failed to take their lawmaker oaths correctly following last year's elections, disqualifying them from office from October 12, 2016, the day of the initial Legislative Council swearing-in ceremony. (Pictured, Edward Yiu Chung-yim, second from left, Nathan Law Kwun-chung, Leung Kwok-hung, and Lau Siu-lai).
Finance Committee chairman Chan Kin-por immediately suspended Friday afternoon's meeting as soon as news of the disqualifications reached Legco. Law, Leung, Lau and Yiu were all present in the chamber at the time.
Law, from Demosisto, raised the pitch of his voice while reading the words ‘People’s Republic of China’ which sounded to some people as if he was asking a question. The court said he had given the impression that he was "forced" to take the oath by a "totalitarian" authority.
Leung, from the League of Social Democrats’, chanted slogans ahead of his speech and was holding a yellow umbrella, a symbol of the 2014 Occupy movement. The court said these "theatrical acts" did not befit the "dignity" and "respect" the oath-taking process demands.
Lau, from Democracy Groundwork, read her oath extremely slowly, with pauses in between each word. She was later allowed a second chance to take the oath properly, as was Yiu, an independent, who added a line to his oath about fighting for genuine universal suffrage.
The court case, initiated by former Chief Executive CY Leung, echoed similar legal action last year that saw Youngspiration pair Sixtus Leung and Yau Wai-ching lose their Legco seats over their deliberately-botched oaths.
Sixtus Leung and Yau’s dismissal, which followed an interpretation of the Basic Law by Beijing, had already reduced the pan-democrats’ majority in the geographical constituencies and the latest disqualifications put them in the minority.
With only 14 pan-democrats now occupying geographical constituency seats, versus 16 pro-establishment figures, the opposition lose the veto they had over motions put forward by members that require the support of a majority of those present from both blocs.
Pan-democrats fear the pro-government camp will make use of the loss of their veto to push through motions they couldn’t have passed previously, such as changes to Legco rules on filibustering. -RTHK