Legislative Council president Andrew Leung Kwan-yuen has said that the legislature’s administrative Commission will discuss on Tuesday what kind of access the Youngspiration duo and their assistants will have following the Basic Law interpretation issued by Beijing.
China’s top legislature, the Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress (NPCSC), voted on and passed The NPCSC’s interpretation of the Basic Law Article 104 of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region with unanimous support on Monday morning. This is the fifth Basic Law interpretation since the 1997 handover.
It will affect a legal challenge lodged by the government against Baggio Leung Chun-hang and Yau Wai-ching, whose oaths of office last month sparked controversy that they had insulted China. The interpretation may effectively disqualify the two.
Monday’s interpretation sought to define the term “in accordance with law.” It said oath-taking is a mandatory procedure for assuming public office, and those being sworn in must “fulfil the statutory requirements in format and content” by “accurately, completely and solemnly” reading out phrases such as the full name of Hong Kong.
Oath-takers are not allowed to retake their pledges and will be disqualified from assuming public office if they decline to take the oaths, according to the interpretation. “Decline” means deliberately reading out an altered oath or reading the oath in an insincere manner.
Andrew Leung said he agreed with the latest interpretation of the Basic Law issued by Beijing.
“The interpretation… will facilitate the taking of oaths by members of the Legislative Council of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region in accordance with law when assuming office and reduce controversies arising from oath taking,” he said.
“I look forward to the court judgments on cases involving the [Basic Law] article expediently so that the Legislative Council can resume normal operation,” he added.
When asked about arrangements for potential by-elections, Leung said they should be handled by the Registration and Electoral Office and the government.
Beijing’s Basic Law Committee chair Li Fei said that concept of national self-determination was “essentially” the same as Hong Kong independence.
Although Li referred to “national self-determination,” which is advocated by the Youngspiration party, there are concerns that advocates of “democratic self-determination” – such as Nathan Law of the Demosistō party and independent lawmakers Lau Siu-lai and Edward Yiu Chung-yim – will also be affected.
Leung said the oath-taking of all but the two Youngspiration lawmakers are completed.
“There are unclear parts in the laws of oath-taking. This interpretation comes at an appropriate time and explains unclear parts, so that it would be easier to execute the law,” he said.
Leung said it was clear in the interpretation that the two lawmakers cannot assume office if they have not completed their oaths.
“The LegCo secretariat will [consider] whether to ask for payback of wages and salaries after the court ruling,” he said.
When asked if the interpretation was giving the LegCo secretary-general too much power to administer and validate the oath, Leung said any administrator can perform their legal duty well, as the requirements are now clear after the interpretation.