The Court of First Instance will hear a legal challenge to disqualify newly-elected pro-democracy lawmaker Au Nok-hin on March 28.

On Tuesday, businessman Wong Tai-hoi, assisted by pro-establishment district councillor Wong Kwok-hing, filed a judicial review to challenge Au’s candidacy. The writ claimed that Au should not have been allowed to run due to his alleged support for self-determination and Hong Kong independence. Wong also requested the court issue an injunction to prevent Au from taking his oath of office.

File photo: In-Media.

The pro-establishment camp has argued that Au does not truly uphold the Basic Law as he once burned a copy of the mini-constitution, but Au said the object was a prop burned to protest China’s interpretation of the law in 2016.

At a directions hearing on Friday morning, High Court Judge Anderson Chow scheduled the hearing for March 28. Leave must be granted by the court before the case can proceed. Chow raised the question of whether the plaintiffs were the best people to issue the challenge, and whether the matter should be addressed through a judicial review, an election petition or by using the Legislative Council Ordinance.

Au is represented by Senior Counsel Paul Shieh, while Wong is represented by Senior Counsel Tim Wong. Neither Wong Tai-hoi nor the two respondents – Au and returning officer Anne Teng Yu-yan – turned up to court.

Au Nok-hin. Photo: Au Nok-hin.

As the government gazette announcing that Au has been elected as a lawmaker in the Hong Kong Island constituency was published on Friday morning, Chow said the temporary injunction sought by Wong to prevent Au from taking his oath was no longer effective. Senior Counsel Wong said they will no longer seek an injunction to prevent the oath-taking, but their application will be revised to request an amendment of the gazette, Apple Daily reported.

When asked about the case on Friday, Au told reporters that he heard rumours that some pro-establishment legislators were planning to force an adjournment of the Legislature Council meeting to prevent him from taking the oath. Au said again that he hoped the camp will let the matter go.

“There’s not much I can do – I can only promise here that I will be very careful in facing the legal proceedings… and with the upcoming oath-taking on Wednesday,” he said, adding that he will not amend his oath.

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Karen is a journalist and writer covering politics and legal affairs in Hong Kong for HKFP. She has also written features on human rights, public space, regional legal developments, social and grassroots activism, and arts & culture. She is a BA and LLB graduate from the University of Hong Kong.