Incoming lawmaker Nathan Law, who was last to take his oath at the first meeting of the legislative term on Wednesday, delivered a protest speech before clashing with the legislature’s secretary-general.

Law, the youngest lawmaker elected in September’s election, said: “This sacred ceremony has become a tool of the authorities trying to suppress public opinion under absolute authority and regulations.”

Quoting Indian leader Mahatma Gandhi, Law continued in English: “You can chain me, you can torture me, you can even destroy this body, but you will never imprison my mind.”

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“Today I must complete the necessary procedures, but it doesn’t mean I will bend and bow to absolute authority,” he continued. “I will never bear allegiance to the powers that be, that kill the people. I will stand by my principles and use my conscience to defend Hong Kong.”

He finished his speech by yelling: “Hope lies with the people, change comes with resistance and struggle” before taking his oath.

Presidential vote

Law expressed his Demosistō party’s message of self-determination, adding afterwards: “Power returns to the people. Absolute and autocratic powers will not live forever. There should be democratic self determination and there will be continuous struggle.”

Following this statement, Law then asked Legislative Council Secretary General Kenneth Chen what authority he had to decide that three members’ oaths were ineffective, thus barring them from voting for a Legislative Council President. The election for president is set to take place on Wednesday afternoon.

Joshua Wong Nathan Law Alex Chow
From left to right: Joshua Wong, Nathan Law, and Alex Chow. Photo: Joshua Wong via Facebook.

In response, Chen replied that the oath taking had concluded and asked Law to return to his seat. Law refused to return to his seat before Chen answered his question about whether the three members can take part in the election.

Chen then adjourned the meeting.

Law was one of the student leaders of the pro-democracy “Umbrella Movement” protests in 2014, along with Joshua Wong. The two set up a new political party called Demosisto, running on the basis that Hong Kong people should be able to choose how they are governed.

catherine lai

Catherine Lai

Catherine is a Canadian journalist and photographer who lived in Beijing for almost two years, working in TV and online media. Aside from Hong Kong and mainland affairs, she is also interested in urban spaces, art and feminism. She holds a BA in Literature and Art History from the University of British Columbia.