The Legislative Council is to ask two localist politicians whose lawmaker statuses were stripped by the court to pay back HK$930,000 per person for wages and subsidies paid to them.

The decision was made after a special meeting of the LegCo Commission, which discusses administrative measures for the Council. Yau Wai-ching and Baggio Leung Chun-hang of the Youngspiration party previously lost a legal challenge and failed to keep their seats as lawmaker. The court determined that they had declined to take their oaths of office. The ruling for an appeal hearing on Thursday has yet to be handed down.

LegCo president Andrew Leung Kwan-yuen said on Thursday that, according to the recent interpretation on Article 104 of the Basic Law by the National People’s Congress, no public office shall be assumed, no corresponding powers and functions shall be exercised, and no corresponding entitlements shall be enjoyed by anyone who fails to lawfully and validly take the oath or who declines to take the oath.

Yau Wai-ching outside the High Court. File Photo: Chantal Yuen.

The court ruling stated that the duo officially became lawmakers on October 1, until they were retrospectively disqualified on October 12.

Leung said after considering the interpretation and relevant court judgments that members of the LegCo Commission did not have an unanimous opinion over whether to fully recover the wages and the subsidies, but ultimately a decision was made to recover the full amount, since the interpretation stated that the duo did not have the right to enjoy any corresponding entitlements of lawmakers.

“This is public money – public money has to be carefully handled,” he said. “After discussion, most lawmakers agreed it would be safer to [recover the amount paid to them] since October 1.”

The amount of HK$930,000 for each person included HK$95,180 in monthly salary and $834,000 for operations, assistants, meals and transport, among other things.

Andrew Leung. File Photo: Stanley Leung/HKFP

Leung said the LegCo secretariat will write to the duo and the two can write back with their objections, which will be considered by the secretariat.

Leung also said the due date for the payments would only be decided after a ruling has been made by the Court of Appeal.

He added that the secretariat may reconsider whether to pay lawmakers for expenses in advance at the start of the next LegCo term.

“Of course we will be more careful after this case,” he said.

Kris Cheng

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.