Hong Kong’s new chief executive Carrie Lam has said that she has no plans at the moment to file more legal challenges to disqualify legislators, following the High Court’s ousting of four members of the pro-democracy camp on Friday.

Beginning last October, former chief executive Leung Chun-ying and secretary for justice Rimsky Yuen filed judicial reviews to oust elected localist legislators Yau Wai-ching and Baggio Leung over the ways in which they took their oaths of office. They also targeted pro-democracy legislators Leung Kwok-hung, Lau Siu-lai, Nathan Law, and Edward Yiu.

Beijing handed down an interpretation of the Basic Law in November to stipulate how their oaths should have been taken, and all six have now been disqualified.

Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor
Carrie Lam on Saturday. Photo: RTHK screenshot.

Speaking to reporters on Saturday, Lam said that Friday’s disqualifications of Leung, Law, Lau and Yiu were conducted in accordance with the law. “Currently, we have no plans to file further judicial reviews,” she added.

After Lam was elected as chief executive in March, she said she could not guarantee that the government would not file further legal challenges to oust more pro-democracy lawmakers. “It is very inappropriate to say for certain at this moment,” she told Commercial Radio.

On Saturday, Lam urged the remaining 24 opposition lawmakers to focus on their legislative duties and pass her proposal to spend an extra HK$3.6 billion each year on education.

“The High Court’s decision… has made certain pro-democracy lawmakers feel uncomfortable, because they have always been very united,” she said. “But this verdict should not affect daily work in the legislature.”

At a rally supporting their four newly-disqualified colleagues on Friday evening, some pro-democracy lawmakers including Fernando Cheung said they could not pretend that the legislature was in a business-as-usual condition and conduct their work as normal.

Edward Yiu Nathan Law Leung Kwok-hung Lau Siu-lai
Disqualified legislators Edward Yiu, Nathan Law, Leung Kwok-hung and Lau Siu-lai. Photo: Elson Tong/HKFP.

But on Sunday, another pro-democracy lawmaker, Eddie Chu, said that Lam had the ability to take remedial steps to rebuild bridges between the government and the pro-democracy camp.

“The ball is in her court,” he said on RTHK’s City Forum programme. “In this very case [the disqualification of Leung, Law, Lau and Yiu], for example, she can decide whether to charge legal costs, how to treat them, what arrangements are made for a by-election.”

“All of these acts can be part of Lam’s pledge to Hongkongers that she will do everything she can to rectify the wrongdoings of Leung Chun-ying and the Beijing authorities.”

Citizen lawsuits

Although Lam has not yet filed any further judicial reviews, Chu and fellow opposition lawmaker Cheng Chung-tai are facing an ongoing legal challenge filed by a member of the public to oust them from their seats.

Eddie Chu Hoi-dick
Eddie Chu. Photo: Kris Cheng/HKFP.

In March, pro-Beijing solicitor Barry Chin, acting on behalf of a member of the public named Lo King-yeung, submitted an application to the High Court to oust Chu and Cheng. Chin declined to comment to Citizen News’ enquiries on Lo’s identity.

During the oath-taking ceremony last October, Chu shouted “democratic self-determination, tyranny will end,” while Cheng shouted “a constitution by all people, make a new covenant.”

The High Court will hear the parties in a case summons scheduled for the morning of July 26.

Elson Tong is a graduate of international relations and former investigations consultant. He has also written for Stand News.