The localist Youngspiration party, whose lawmakers have been unable to retake their oaths, have claimed that the government is secretly preparing for by-elections for three Legislative Council seats. The government election office has said it will arrange by-elections when necessary.

“Youngspiration received notice from two supporters working in two separate offices of the Registration and Electoral Office, that the Office recently notified staff members through confidential documents to prepare by-elections for three Legislative Council seats,” the party stated on Facebook on Wednesday afternoon.

“We understand that the news has spread widely among staff members,” the post added.

Youngspiration’s Yau Wai-ching (left) and Sixtus Leung Chung-hang (right). Photo: HKFP.

Sixtus “Baggio” Leung Chun-hang and Yau Wai-ching have yet to be sworn in as lawmakers after three weeks of LegCo meetings. The president of the legislature made a u-turn decision this week, declaring that they would not be allowed to. Their first oaths two weeks ago were deemed by pro-Beijing groups to be insulting to Chinese people worldwide.

They also face a legal challenge lodged by the Chief Executive and the Secretary for Justice, in which the High Court has been asked to declare their office vacant. The government argues that they declined to, or neglected to, take their oaths.

Lau siu-lai taking oath. Photo: Stanley Leung/HKFP.

Lau Siu-lai, another lawmaker, was not able to complete her oath on Wednesday owing to chaos in the LegCo chamber.

Baggio Leung said similar information had also been found on Facebook pages where civil servants post messages anonymously.

Baggio Leung. Photo: Catherine Lai/HKFP.

But he said he did not know whose seats the government was preparing the by-elections for: “I have no idea why it would be three [by-elections].”

Yau said the Office should explain to the public why it was supposedly planning by-elections at this early point.

A spokesperson for the Registration and Electoral Office told HKFP that it will arrange by-elections in accordance with the law when necessary, if there is a vacancy in the Legislative Council.

Photo: Catherine Lai/HKFP.

Rally at short notice

The claim came as the party organised a rally on Wednesday night which called for “upholding separation of powers, returning dignity to the legislature.”

Dozens attended the rally, which was announced on Wednesday at midnight. Earlier on Wednesday, thousands of pro-Beijing protesters gathered outside the LegCo in opposition of Baggio Leung and Yau retaking their oaths.

Photo: Catherine Lai/HKFP.

Leung said the public can cast opposition to their ideals, but his party has always been clear about them and they were elected by tens of thousands of voters.

Baggio Leung. Photo: Catherine Lai/HKFP.

“[The LegCo President’s decision] directly stripped the rights of tens of thousands of voters to have a representative,” he said.

Leung added that he has never refused to take the oath.

Leung Kwok-hung “Long Hair”. Photo: Catherine Lai/HKFP.

Several lawmakers including “Long Hair” Leung Kwok-hung, Nathan Law Kwun-chung, Eddie Chu Hoi-dick spoke at the rally in support of the duo that they should be allowed the opportunity to take their oaths.

Pro-democracy lawmakers have demanded he LegCo president step down.

Baggio Leung said he would not comment on the modest turnout, but admitted that it was a short notice.

Eddie Chu. Photo: Catherine Lai/HKFP.

He thanked the public, civil groups and lawmakers for coming to and speaking at the rally, saying that the party originally planned to live stream the LegCo meeting outdoors, but it ended prematurely.

“If the meeting was still going on, maybe people would have a clear target to assert pressure unto,” he said. “We will consider further action.”

Yau Wai-ching. Photo: Catherine Lai/HKFP.

Yau said she hoped the public will continue to express their concerns.

“It is not only about Baggio Leung and I, or the judicial review, but Hong Kong’s core values, separation of powers, or the abuse of power of the government,” she said. “These are the reasons why we have this rally.”

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Kris Cheng

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.