The High Court has again postponed hearing the government’s judicial review against four pro-democracy lawmakers to March 1, as one of them is still applying for government legal aid.

The case, lodged by the government in December last year over their oaths of office at the Legislative Council, was previously postponed to February.

The legal aid applications of lawmakers Nathan Law Kwun-chung, Lau Siu-lai and Edward Yiu Chung-yim were rejected last week. The three and “Long Hair” Leung Kwok-hung, who may receive legal aid, requested that the court hearing for the case be postponed.

Edward Yiu Chung-yim, Lau Siu-lai, Leung Kwok-hung, Nathan Law
The four lawmakers challenged in court: Photo: LSD.

Mr Justice Thomas Au Hing-cheung initially said the trio’s failed legal aid applications were not good reasons for the case to be postponed, as the case involved an urgent public interest, reported Now TV. But he acknowledged that Leung’s legal aid application is likely to be approved after he submits documents on his assets, thus he agreed to postpone Leung’s case.

He then decided that the four cases should all be delayed as they were linked to each other. He added that this will be the last postponement.

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Leung Chun-ying. Photo: HKFP/Catherine Lai.

Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying and the Secretary for Justice asked the court to declare the offices of the four lawmakers vacant over the oaths they took during October’s swearing-in session. The government lodged the judicial review in early December.

The hearing came after the High Court declared in November that two elected politicians from the separatist Youngspiration party, Baggio Leung Chung-hang and Yau Wau-ching, had “declined” to take their oaths and must therefore be disqualified from the legislature. They lost at the Court of First Instance and the Court of Appeal, but they have decided to directly go to the Court of Final Appeal.

Prior to the pair’s first loss, Beijing made a move to reinterpret Hong Kong’s de facto constitution, the Basic Law. It ruled that oath takers must take the oath “sincerely” and read out the oath “accurately, completely and solemnly.” It opened the door to the scrutiny of other pro-democracy legislators’ oath taking.

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During the ceremony, Lau read her oath is slow motion over a period of almost ten minutes. The legislature’s clerk accepted her oath then, but the president later rejected it. Lau retook her oath in November.

Meanwhile, Yiu added the phrase “for democracy and for Hong Kong’s sustainable development” as he took his oath. Law allegedly changed the tone as he read out “People’s Republic of China” to make it sound like a question, whereas Leung brought props to the stage and shouted slogans before and after reading his oath.

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.