By-elections to replace disqualified lawmakers will be held fairly, Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam has said after Youngspiration’s Yau Wai-ching and Baggio Leung lost their final bid to regain their legislative seats.

The duo were kicked out of the Legislative Council last October for not taking their oaths properly after the government launched a legal challenge against them. The Court of Final Appeal rejected their application to appeal the verdict on Friday morning.

Photo: Screenshot/RTHK.

Their case prompted a rare interpretation of Hong Kong’s mini-constitution by Beijing, sparking protests from the public and legal sector. By-elections will be held for their seats, as well as for the seats of four other pro-democracy lawmakers disqualified in July.

In response to the court’s decision, chief executive Lam said: “Hong Kong is a society under the rule of law. We have an independent judiciary. So as always, everything is decided by an independent court.”

“[E]verything will be done according to the normal rules and legal requirements. We will not use political manoeuvring to achieve any particular election results.”

See also: HKFP’s full coverage of the LegCo oath-taking row

“There is a legal basis for the by-election arrangements, and the electoral affairs commission will take certain things into account – including venues, resources and human resources.”

The Constitutional and Mainland Affairs Bureau will look at how to conduct the by-election once legal procedures in the lawmakers’ cases are completed, she added.

Baggio Leung and Yau Wai-ching outside the Court of First Instance on Friday. Photo: Catherine Lai/HKFP.

Lam previously addressed democrats’ concerns that the government would use by-election arrangements to take advantage of the opposition camp.

Normally, by-elections should be held four to six months after a vacancy. Due to the way the election system works, if by-elections for all seats are held together, there may be a higher chance for democrats to lose at least two seats.

The camp must win at least four seats in the geographical constituency to regain their veto power over major bills.

Catherine Lai

Catherine is a Canadian journalist and photographer who lived in Beijing for almost two years, working in TV and online media. Aside from Hong Kong and mainland affairs, she is also interested in urban spaces, art and feminism. She holds a BA in Literature and Art History from the University of British Columbia.