Former lawmaker Edward Yiu has said that a pro-Beijing politician made “misleading remarks” against him by claiming that Yiu will not be able to run for office after he was disqualified.

Yiu, who was disqualified by the court after a government action challenging his oath of office, is a candidate in the pro-democracy camp’s primary election. He will run in the by-election in the Kowloon West constituency should he win. Yiu was a lawmaker for about nine months before he was stripped of the title.

Wong Kwok-keung, a member of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference national committee, wrote in pro-Beijing newspaper Sing Tao Daily on Tuesday that Beijing’s interpretation of Article 104 in the Basic Law – Hong Kong’s de facto constitution – has a retroactive power.

Wong Kwok-keung; Edward Yiu. Photo: Kum Sing Group/In-Media.

“It is a legal requirement for those running for public office to take the oath to uphold the Basic Law… They not only have to express that they uphold the Basic Law and oppose Hong Kong independence when they submit nominations, their past behavior must prove that they upheld the Basic Law,” he wrote.

Wong said returning officers barred some candidates from running for office because their past comments violated the Basic Law.

“If [Yiu] can participate in the by-election and become a lawmaker again at any time after being disqualified, I am afraid it is a violation of the spirit of the interpretation, and it is a challenge to the interpretation,” he wrote.

In his oath made on October 12, 2016, Yiu added phrases such as “for democracy and for Hong Kong’s sustainable development.” His oath was rejected twice by the legislature’s clerk, but he retook the oath a week later and it was accepted.

Yiu responded in a statement that Wong apparently made misleading remarks in order to prevent him from winning. He said such remarks may violate the Elections (Corrupt and Illegal Conduct) Ordinance and he reserves the right to take legal action.

A commentary on pro-Beijing paper Ta Kung Pao also carried arguments similar to Wong’s on Tuesday.

Legal sector lawmaker Dennis Kwok said Wong’s remarks were unreasonable since a candidate’s eligibility should be considered under local laws and not Beijing’s interpretation. He added that a candidate should not be barred from running because he did not take his oath effectively.

Kwok said if Yiu is barred from running, “an unstoppable political storm will come.”

Yiu is up against Democratic Party district councillor Ramon Yuen and Association for Democracy and People’s Livelihood former lawmaker Frederick Fung in the primary election for the Kowloon West constituency. A public vote will be conducted this Sunday.

Kris Cheng

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.