A member of a pro-Beijing taxi association has asked the court to disqualify eight pro-democracy lawmakers for making invalid oaths, the first of such applications after the recent Basic Law interpretation by Beijing.

The application for a judicial review was lodged by Cheng Yuk-kai, a former chairman of the Taxi Drivers and Operators Association. He demanded the High Court declare the seats of eight lawmakers vacant, including “Long Hair” Leung Kwok-hung, Nathan Law Kwun-chung, Cheng Chung-tai, Ray Chan Chi-chuen, Eddie Chu Hoi-dick, Lau Siu-lai, Edward Yiu Chung-yim and Shiu Ka-chun.

For Lau and Yiu, Cheng wrote in the writ that LegCo president did not have the power to allow them to retake their oaths after the first failed attempt. Lau took a slow-motion oath that took 12 minutes and Yiu added words into his rejected oath. The other six made statements opposing the government before or after they took their oaths, which were accepted at the time.

Cheng Yuk-kai
Cheng Yuk-kai.

The interpretation by the Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress on Monday sought to define the term “in accordance with law.” It said oath-taking is a mandatory procedure for assuming public office, and lawmakers must “accurately, completely and solemnly” read out phrases such as the full name of Hong Kong.

The taxi association applied for an injunction two years ago, during the pro-democracy Occupy protests, in an attempt to clear the camp in Mong Kok. Cheng also applied in 2015 to the Small Claims Tribunal to ask six Occupy leaders to pay compensation, but he later retracted the case.

Seven of the lawmakers, except Cheng Chung-tai who was still in the chamber, told reporters they were not concerned by the challenge.

Leung Kwok-hung
Leung Kwok-hung. File Photo: Stanley Leung/HKFP.

Leung Kwok-hung said the spirit of democracy was to have the people’s mandate before lawmakers can take the oath, and only God knows if the oaths are valid. He used newly-elected US president Donald Trump as an example to comment on the issue.

“This Trump, who believes that he believes in God? [He said] may God bless America. He has broken eleven commandments out of the ten, cheated women, avoided paying tax, lied. But will Hillary, the Democratic Party or his political rivals say he made a false oath to disqualify him?” he said.

“The pro-Beijing camp and the Leung Chun-ying regime have gone crazy,” he said. “They colluded with each other in hopes of using the Basic Law interpretation to disqualify their political enemies.”

Eddie Chu said he will not change his political stance owing to the court case or cases that may be raised in the future.

“This is the mandate my voters have given me. Maybe you should only be concerned about this case when it has received approval from the court,” he said.

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.