The secretariat of the Legislative Council has informed lawmakers that a copy of lawmaker Andrew Leung Kwan-yuen’s nationality confirmation document will be placed in the ante-chamber on Wednesday for lawmakers to inspect, upon Leung’s request. Leung is set to become the new president of the Legislature, but his British nationality has sparked controversy.

Lawmaker Claudia Mo Man-ching said that she was informed that LegCo members will not be able to copy or remove Leung’s document.

The move came after more than 20 incoming pro-democracy camp lawmakers signed a joint statement demanding proof from Leung that he had completed the procedures to give up his British nationality, before his likely election as LegCo president on Wednesday.

Andrew Leung
Andrew Leung. File Photo: Stand News.

Leung previously said that he had renounced his British citizenship since being re-elected into the legislature in September. It was the fourth LegCo term for Leung since 2004, and his industrial (first) functional constituency seat allows him to keep his foreign nationality.

But the Legislative Council president must be a Chinese citizen with no right of abode in any foreign country, under Hong Kong’s mini-constitution. Thus, he must give up his British citizenship.

Leung was questioned by lawmakers including Civic Passion’s Cheng Chun-tai during a debate on Tuesday with democrat James To Kun-sun over the question on the nationality. Leung said at the time that he would “consider how to deal with it.”

Another requirement stated by the Basic Law is that the president must have ordinarily resided in Hong Kong for a continuous period of no less than 20 years. Leung said he acquired the nationality in the 1980s, and he has never left Hong Kong for more than three months each time.

claudia mo british renunciation
Declaration of renunciation document of Claudia Mo’s British citizenship in 2008. Photo: Facebook/Claudia Mo.

Twenty-one pro-democracy camp members still signed the joint statement after the debate, demanding Leung to show the “declaration of renunciation” of his British citizenship that would have been issued by the UK’s Home Office.

The statement said that the procedure to give up UK nationality could take up to a few months, but Leung may only have applied for renunciation in September.

“We suspect that Andrew Leung only applied for renunciation after he confirmed he has enough support from the pro-Beijing camp to be president,” it read. “But it is possible that, if he has not completed the procedure as of the election tomorrow [Wednesday], that a constitutional crisis may occur… if he is elected.”

The statement also said that incoming lawmaker Eddie Chu Hoi-dick wrote to the UK Home Secretary to request relevant information but a reply has yet to be received.

Under Article 71 of the Basic Law, the president is elected by members of the Legislative Council. The president must be a legislator. He or she presides over all meetings, maintains order in the chamber, decides the agenda and time of meetings and calls special out-of-hours sessions. The election for president will take place on Wednesday, when the first meeting of the new legislative term begins.

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.