Pro-Beijing lawmaker Priscilla Leung has said that she “welcomes” the High Court’s Friday ruling to disqualify four pro-democracy counterparts over the way they took their oaths of office last October.
Mr Justice Thomas Au ruled in favour of the government in its judicial review to remove Democracy Groundwork’s Lau Siu-lai, Demosisto’s Nathan Law, the League of Social Democrats’ Leung Kwok-hung and architectural sector lawmaker Edward Yiu.
Friday’s fresh round of disqualifications come after localists Baggio Leung and Yau Wai-ching were ousted from the legislature last November, bringing the total number of disqualified opposition lawmakers to six.
The 3pm ruling took place in the middle of a Legislative Council Finance Committee meeting, which chairperson Chan Kin-por adjourned.
Speaking at the legislature, pro-Beijing lawmaker Priscilla Leung of the Business and Professionals Alliance said she welcomed the court’s ruling: “The Basic Law and ‘One Country, Two Systems’ have very clear regulations letting everyone know that we must have a dignified Legislative Council.”
“Legislative councillors must take their oaths in a solemn and honest way, telling Hongkongers and the world that they are willing to pledge allegiance to the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region of the People’s Republic of China.”
“This is a very important case,” she added.
Nathan Law’s party, Demosisto, said in a statement following the ruling that over 180,000 voters – including those who cast ballots for localists Yau and Leung – had been “silenced” as a result of the High Court’s two rulings to disqualify six lawmakers.
But Leung dismissed this suggestion, claiming that the legislators did not take the oath-taking seriously and had only themselves to blame.
“They messed things up for themselves,” she said. “I think [voters] should consider whether they have chosen the wrong person.”
“The voters’ votes have been endorsed and has been recognised, and therefore the election itself was duly completed,” added pro-Beijing lawmaker Junius Ho.
Friday’s ruling to disqualify Lau, Yiu, Law and Leung takes effect as of October 12 – the date of their oaths. However, the four lawmakers voted on numerous motions and performed various legislative acts between October and Friday.
“We hope that their votes [for legislative motions] will continue to be valid,” said Leung. “But how the court will see this, we cannot be 100 per cent sure.”
The pro-Beijing legislature president Andrew Leung said that the four disqualified lawmakers will be given two weeks to pack their belongings and leave their offices in the Legislative Council Complex.
The opposition camp is now left with 24 remaining seats in the Legislative Council. It has lost its veto power in the legislature’s split voting system, whereby certain motions must be passed by over half the lawmakers in both the geographical and functional constituencies.
The Federation of Trade Unions’ Wong Kwok-kin said that the pro-Beijing camp does not have any plans to modify the legislature’s rules of procedure to prevent filibustering by the remaining pro-democracy lawmakers, or to push through controversial legislation with its majority in both constituencies.
“We haven’t thought about such long-term ideas yet,” he said.
Leung added that her camp would hold discussions as to how it would prepare for a future by-election to fill the six vacated seats.