Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying has said there were no preparations being made for by-elections, amid concerns that lawmakers may be disqualified after the Basic Law interpretation on Monday.
Aside from the Youngspiration duo – whose oaths were deemed an insult to China – four lawmakers who support the notion of democratic self-determination may also receive a challenge to invalidate their oaths. Li Fei, a top Chinese member of Beijing’s Basic Law Committee, said the notion was “essentially” the same as Hong Kong independence. The lawmakers include Eddie Chu Hoi-dick, Nathan Law Kwun-chung, Lau Siu-lai and Edward Yiu Chung-yim. All staged protests during their swearing-in session.
Ahead of the regular Executive Council meeting on Tuesday, Leung said the interpretation was only handed down a day earlier: “But if there are vacancies, we will conduct by-elections as soon as possible.”
Monday’s interpretation by the National People’s Congress Standing Committee (NPCSC) sought to define the term “in accordance with law,” which now means that oath-takers 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.
The government has lodged a legal challenge against the duo, but a ruling has yet to be made. Mr Justice Thomas Au Hing-cheung has asked the pair to file new submissions, if needed, before Thursday noon on the effect of the interpretation on their previously submitted statements.
Leung said the government will act “in accordance with law” on the effect of the interpretation.
Asked if the interpretation was creating new laws, instead of merely interpreting the Basic Law, Leung said: “The Basic Law is a part of the law of Hong Kong, and the interpretation by the NPCSC is a part of Hong Kong’s constitutional and legal arrangement.”
“The interpretation by the NPCSC clarified many previous issues of understanding about the Basic Law and other Hong Kong laws,” Leung said.
“Hong Kong people have the righs to vote and right to stand for election in accordance with law,” Leung said when asked about the impact of the interpretation on election rights.
“The Basic Law is a part of local law, therefore people should attach importance to the interpretation by the NPCSC.”
Leung said the government will look into conducting any follow-up action after the interpretation.
“The Hong Kong government has comprehensive and smooth communication about the issue of the relationship between Hong Kong and the central government,” Leung said. “The government will reflect all kinds of views on this kind of issue.”
Leung said he has no news about whether he will seek a second term in office.