The last four interpretations of the Basic Law “brought about some turbulence to Hong Kong, but in the long run, they can stabilise [the city],” said National People’s Congress (NPC) deputy and Basic Law Committee member Maria Tam Wai-chu on Commercial Radio Friday morning. She was speaking about the latest interpretation handed down by Beijing, the fifth since the handover in 1997, which said that oaths of allegiance must be taken “accurately, completely and solemnly.”

“The interpretation this time is very simple…” she said. “[It is] because in the Legislative Council we are already at a stage where they can advocate for Hong Kong independence, and publicly insult the country and insult the nation.”

maria tam
Maria Tam. Photo: RTHK screenshot.

“Even if there are cases going on, everybody understands how the interpretation of the law that needs to be followed,” said Tam, adding that if the central government intended to go up against the pan-democrats, they would have issued an interpretation during the last two legislative terms.

“The most important thing is that when you are accepting public office, when you say that you will be loyal and protect the Basic Law and Hong Kong Special Administrative Region, you are doing it sincerely and honestly,” she said.

Jasper Tsang
Jasper Tsang. Photo: Cloud.

The NPC deputy also said that the former Legislative Council president Jasper Tsang Yok-tsing’s decision to allow pro-democracy lawmaker Raymond Wong Yuk-man to take the oath again in 2012, after failing once, did not have a legal basis. Nor did it mean it was correct, she said. Wong had coughed throughout his oath and omitted characters during his first attempt.

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She added that the NPC did not talk about passing Article 23, a controversial section of the Basic Law which prohibits secession and sedition against China.

Chantal Yuen is a Hong Kong journalist interested in issues dealing with religion and immigration. She majored in German and minored in Middle Eastern studies at Princeton University.