Secretary for Justice Rimsky Yuen Kwok-keung has said that the government “will decide as soon as possible” whether it will lodge fresh legal challenges over lawmakers’ oaths.
On Tuesday, the government won its bid to eject Yau Wai-ching and Baggio Leung Chung-hang from the legislature. The pro-independence Youngspiration legislators used words during their swearing-in session that some deemed an insult to Chinese people, sparking the recent oath-taking controversy and a legal challenge.
Yuen was asked by reporters on Wednesday about the case and other potential cases. He said: “We need some time to look into yesterday’s ruling – at this stage we have yet to make the decision [to lodge other judicial reviews], but we know society is concerned about this matter, so we will decide as soon as possible.”
Most lawmakers ‘probably safe’
During last month’s swearing-in session, Lau read her oath in slow motion over a period of almost ten minutes. She later said on social media that the purpose was to deprive the pledge of its meaning by reading each word in isolation.
Eric Cheung Tat-ming, a senior law lecturer at HKU, said on an RTHK programme on Wednesday that apart from Lau, lawmakers whose oaths are being challenged before the court “are probably safe,” due to the fact that the court requires “very strong evidence” before it can conclude that an oath-taker has declined to take the pledge.
Speaking on the court ruling, Yuen said it provided a clear explanation on the issues and principles relating to the fact that lawmakers have to take an oath in accordance with Article 104 of the Basic Law. The article states that lawmakers must swear to uphold the Basic Law and swear allegiance to Hong Kong – a Special Administrative Region of China – in accordance with the law.
“In handling the related issues, whether it is about the Legislative Council, the government, or society as a whole, there will be clear guidelines,” he said.
He also said that Mr Justice Thomas Au Hing-cheung accepted the government’s additional submission made after the Basic Law interpretation by Beijing last week, which said that the interpretation did not affect the government’s position that the Youngspiration duo should be disqualified.
“My understanding is that the interpretation was not targeted at any specific case, but to explain the principle of Article 104 of the Basic Law,” he said.
Yuen’s comments came after those made by Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying on Tuesday night after the ruling.
Leung said: “As for the follow-up actions, we are looking into that – we do everything in accordance with the law, including concerning the [Youngspiration] duo and other people – whether they fulfilled the requirements of the oath under Article 104 of the Basic Law. We’ve done so in the past, we will do the same in the future – we do everything in accordance with the law.”