The government has stated that incoming lawmakers “shall vacate office or be disqualified from entering” if they decline or neglect to take an oath requested by the law.

The official statement came after a report from the pro-Beijing newspaper Ta Kung Pao on Tuesday which cited “authoritative sources” as saying that incoming lawmakers may not be able to take office if they do not take the oath properly on Wednesday. The report said the government was prepared for legal battles and it was also prepared to apply for an interpretation of the Basic Law by the Chinese National People’s Congress if a court decision cannot be made.

The report quoted the source as saying that the Beijing government would not allow the message of Hong Kong independence – including from the two Youngspiration party members – into any institutions. The source warned incoming lawmakers not to include any such message in their oaths.

Baggio Leung Yau Wai-ching
Baggio Leung and Yau Wai-ching. Photo: Facebook.

In response to media enquiries, the government published a statement Tuesday afternoon on the oath-taking process. The oath was prescribed by the Oaths and Declarations Ordinance, it said.

It said the taking of an oath that accords with the requirements of Article 104 of the Basic Law is “a mandatory constitutional obligation imposed on all members-elect of LegCo,” according to a 2004 judgment made by Mr. Justice Michael Hartmann.

“If a member swears his or her oath in a manner or form that is inconsistent with the Ordinance, thereby altering the substance of the oath itself, the oath offends Article 104 of the Basic Law and will therefore be unlawful and of no legal effect,” the statement read. “The Clerk to LegCo has no jurisdiction to administer such an oath. Should such a scenario arise, the Clerk should draw it to the attention of the LegCo President when one is elected for a ruling.”

legislative council
File photo: HKFP.

“Section 21 of the Ordinance provides that any person who declines or neglects to take an oath duly requested which he or she is required to take shall vacate office or be disqualified from entering on it,” it added.

The government also said that it “looks forward to all 70 members of the LegCo completing the oath-taking requirement tomorrow in an orderly manner in compliance with the law so that LegCo business in the new term may commence without delay.”

Kris Cheng is a Hong Kong journalist with an interest in local politics. His work has been featured in Washington Post, Public Radio International, Hong Kong Economic Times and others. He has a BSSc in Sociology from the Chinese University of Hong Kong. Kris is HKFP's Editorial Director.