Lawmaker Lau Siu-lai has said that the government’s upcoming legal challenge to disqualify her was a political act by Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying in light of his possible bid to stand for re-election. Meanwhile, pro-democracy lawmakers have said the government’s effort to overturn the results of September’s Legislative Council election amounts to a “coup d’etat.”

Lau said that she was angered by the move, adding that since there were already judicial reviews lodged against her by other people, Leung did not need to intervene.

“Such an intervention is clearly for a political purpose – to employ whatever means for his re-election campaign, to gain political bargaining chips for the pro-Beijing camp and himself,” she said.

Lau Siu-lai.

Last month, 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 out each word in isolation.

The oath on October 12 was accepted by LegCo’s Secretary-General at the time, but Andrew Leung later rejected it and gave Lau another chance to retake the pledge. Lau took the second oath on November 2 at a normal speed and it was accepted. The pro-Beijing camp turned their backs on Lau as she took the oath for the second time.

Lau said that Leung wished to use her to break apart the pro-democracy camp and eliminate them one by one.

“Does he think that if he eliminates me, no one else will oppose him?” she said, in the presence of most of the camp. “I hope Hong Kong people and the pro-democracy camp can unite during this difficult time and pass through this political suppression.”

The Department of Justice only confirmed that it was planning to initiate legal proceedings against Lau and Andrew Leung. Local media cited sources as saying that the challenges will be lodged later this week or early next week after a ruling had been handed down over the appeal of the Youngspiration duo, which also concerned their oaths.

Fernando Cheung.

Lawmaker Fernando Cheung Chiu-hung called the move a “coup d’etat by those in power.”

“The targets of this coup are some dissidents – who support democracy. This is not only targeting Lau Siu-lai, but a war against all who support democracy,” he said.

He said Lau has completed her oath and did not advocate Hong Kong independence, and that Leung Chun-ying was attempting to take over the pro-democracy camp and achieve a majority in the Legislative Council.

James To Kun-sun, the most senior lawmaker in the camp, warned that challenges against lawmakers would be non-stop if the seat of Lau – who had completed her oath both times – was disqualified.

“Then we wouldn’t be able to know who are lawmakers and who are not – this is all meaningless,” he said. “We wouldn’t even be able to know if laws have been passed… the uncertainty is so high and the ability of the LegCo would be paralysed.”

Leung Kwok-hung.

“Long Hair” Leung Kwok-hung said the most important responsibility of court judges was that they needed to ensure voters’ choices were being respected.

“If a court cannot stand [the pressure], I say they should just stop working and go home,” he said. “Anyone using the court to conduct a coup, using the so-called oath to strip them of their statuses, this is intolerable.”

“We are not here to answer as to whether we are afraid, but we say – we are not afraid,” he added. “I want to tell the judges – do not be afraid.”

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.