Youngspiration’s Yau Wai-ching and Baggio Leung Chung-hang said Wednesday that they will be raising new legal arguments over the oath dispute as they take their case to the Court of Final Appeal. It will be their last chance to overturn decisions from the lower courts last month to disqualify them from the legislature.

“We can’t say much about our legal arguments today, but we are confident that we will get leave to appeal from the court,” Leung said. “However, we must be able to secure HK$1.6 million for paying the Court of Final Appeal’s deposit, or else the court will not hear our appeal.”

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Baggio Leung and Yau Wai-ching. File photo: Bob Yip/Reuters.

The duo are seeking donations of HK$5 million from the public. They said on Wednesday that they had raised about HK$440,000, which had already been used to pay their lawyers.

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The pair will be submitting their request on December 28, the final appeal deadline. Leung explained their strategy to HKFP earlier: “The government led us by the nose in the previous two legal proceedings. They have a lot of time advantages. We faced time constraints [preparing] our legal arguments. We also could not apply for legal aid.”

“There is no need to let them lead us by the nose. Waiting until the last day also gives them a shorter time to look at our argument, which is also a good thing.”

‘Back on the street’

Yau said Wednesday that the legal dispute is an important battleground as it touched upon key issues such as the separation of powers and “whether elections are still elections.”

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“The Hong Kong government’s move to challenge the oaths of some lawmakers and the principle of the separation of powers has opened the floodgates. If we give up today, this floodgate will always exist,” Yau said. “Our case will have an impact on all future judicial review challenges concerning Hong Kong’s constitution.”

The duo also vowed to continue their resistance against the Hong Kong and Chinese governments. “We will not submit to this unjust regime of the Chinese Communist Party that does not respect the spirit of contracts,” Yau said.

Court of Final Appeal. Photo: GovHK.

“Even if we win, under the regime of the Chinese Communist Party, we will at most reclaim a shield, but it won’t solve the fundamental issues. We will definitely be back on the streets,” she added. “We pledge to protect dissidents and the people by all means.”

Several pro-Beijing protesters disrupted the duo’s press conference on Wednesday by shouting at them and calling them “Han traitors.”

The Court of Appeal upheld last month the lower court’s decision to remove the duo from their offices owing to their controversial conduct during the legislature’s swearing-in session in October. It held that the principle of non-intervention by the courts in the legislature’s affairs did not apply, and that Hong Kong’s lawyers were not qualified to evaluate Beijing’s ruling on oath-taking on the basis that it was made under a different legal system.

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Baggio Leung. Photo: Eric Cheung/HKFP.

Beijing handed down a binding interpretation of the Basic Law last month setting out the conduct expected of oath-takers. During the appeal hearing, the judges asked the parties to explain their views on the interpretation.

The Court of Appeal also adopted the Court of Final Appeal’s position in a 1999 case that Beijing’s interpretations of the Basic Law had a retrospective effect and came into effect on July 1, 1997 – the day Hong Kong was handed over to China by the UK.

Critics have challenged the Court of Appeal’s unsatisfactory reasoning, warning that the judgment would have far reaching consequences and erode Hong Kong’s rule of law.

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Ellie Ng

Ellie Ng has written for Foreign Policy, the Daily Telegraph, Global Voices Online and others.