Two democratically-elected localist politicians who are set to be barred from attending a Legislative Council meeting on Wednesday have accused the Council’s president of bowing to pressure. Both have vowed to do all in their power to enter the chamber to complete their oaths as lawmakers.

President Andrew Leung Kwan-yuen made a u-turn on Tuesday saying that a repeat swearing-in session for Youngspiration politicians Sixtus “Baggio” Leung Chun-hang and Yau Wai-ching will be deferred on Wednesday, until a legal challenge over the matter raised by the government has concluded. He said the pair will not be able to enter the chamber, as he has decided that their swearing-in will not be on the agenda.

Baggio Leung Yau Wai-ching
Baggio Leung and Yau Wai-ching. screenshot.

But Baggio Leung said their first oaths – which some deemed an insult to Chinese people – were also challenged legally by in court when Andrew Leung decided last week that they could, in fact, take their oaths again.

“Legally, I cannot see any new developments or new reasons that caused Andrew Leung to make a completely opposite decision,” Baggio Leung said. “This is no reason that the Chief Executive’s judicial review could change his decision, and a common citizen can’t.”

‘Collusion’ with pro-Beijing camp

Baggio Leung said it was a “political decision” after the pro-Beijing vowed to walk out of council meetings to stop them from taking their oaths again. Andrew Leung said his u-turn was made after considering the continuous running of the LegCo.

“As the LegCo president, he colluded with a certain camp to strip the constitutional rights of democratically-elected lawmakers, to give up the honour of the legislature,” he said. “I can say that he is not worthy of remaining as president.”

andrew leung legco
LegCo president Andrew Leung. File Photo: HKFP.

Leung said he had submitted a written question for the government and an amendment to a debate for the meeting on Wednesday, therefore they will still walk into the chamber and cite the rules of procedure of LegCo to demand an opportunity to retake their oaths. Article 18(2) of the rules state that oath-taking is always the first item on the agenda of council meetings, and it does not require prior approval from the president.

“Andrew Leung has no right to block us from entering the chamber,” he said.

Baggio Leung compared their situation to the child in the story The Emperor’s New Clothes: “Although to some people we may not have done something good, in the end you will understand our reasons… I have no regrets.”

legco oath taking
Taking of Legislative Council oath. Photo: Stanley Leung/HKFP.

Leung also warned that it is an offence to block lawmakers from attending LegCo meetings, and that LegCo security guards should not act illegally.

Citing Mr Justice Thomas Au Hing-cheung, Yau said Au rejected the government’s bid for an interim injunction to bar them from retaking their oaths because – if the government later lost the case – the lawmakers’ constitutional rights would be stripped.

“The president’s decision is a de-facto execution of the rejected injunction,” she said. “If our oath-taking is delayed because someone lodged a legal challenge against the president’s decision, does that mean a lawmaker’s oath-taking would have to be delayed if I find someone to lodge a judicial review?”

“It’s our responsibility to finish our oaths and enter the chamber, so we will use all methods that we can think of,” she said.

Lam Cheuk-ting
Lam Cheuk-ting.

The Democratic Party’s Lam Cheuk-ting said Andrew Leung was a “dark referee,” accusing him of making a biased judgment.

Lam said although the LegCo president claimed he had the power to decide the agenda on the basis of the Basic Law, he still has to follow the LegCo’s rules of procedure. “He should not be president anymore,” he said.

People Power’s Ray Chan Chi-chuen said the opposition will support Baggio Leung and Yau Wai-ching in entering the chamber.

But Chan stopped short of giving details as to how the opposition will help doing so.

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.