Gary Fan, Au Nok-hin, Vincent Cheng and Tony Tse have been sworn in as Hong Kong lawmakers after winning the March 11 legislative by-election. Pro-democracy and pro-Beijing camp lawmakers staged small protests during the ceremony, though the oath-taking of each lawmaker was otherwise completed smoothly.

Au Nok-hin oath
Au Nok-hin. Photo: Catherine Lai/HKFP.

The four were sworn in on Wednesday after the disqualification of four lawmakers – Baggio Leung, Yau Wai-ching, Edward Yiu and Nathan Law – over protests they made during their oaths of office in 2016. Beijing issued an interpretation of the Basic Law as the government challenged Leung and Yau in court. Beijing’s ruling deemed that lawmakers must take the oaths solemnly and accurately.

Tony Tse oath
Tony Tse. Photo: Catherine Lai/HKFP.

Before Wednesday’s ceremony, Hong Kong Island by-election winner Au Nok-hin said he would not add or remove any content from his oath.

“I am being elected because of the disqualification of lawmakers as well as Legislative Council candidates,” he said. “I bear the burden of the expectations of many people.”

Gary Fan oath
Gary Fan. Photo: Catherine Lai/HKFP.

There were reports that the pro-Beijing camp had planned to stage a walk out to prevent Au from being inducted, since – in 2016 – he burned a protest prop representing Annex III of the Basic Law.

Au said he hoped the pro-Beijing camp would not do anything to stop the meeting: “I hope they will not need the youngest member of the legislature to teach them how to act maturely.”

Before Au took his oath, New People’s Party lawmakers Regina Ip and Eunice Yung chanted “shame on burning the Basic Law” for a few seconds. Au beat the party’s candidate Judy Chan, who had criticised Au’s stunt, calling him a “potential arsonist” in her election campaign material.

Ip and Yung walked out of the chamber during Au’s oath.

“Because I think it is a shameful act to burn the Basic Law and then deny it, and then publicly say that I would do it again,” Ip said. “And then, for the sake of qualifying, he said that ‘I uphold the Basic Law’ – there are a lot of integrity problem[s] with such behaviour,” Ip said.

Au Nok-hin
Au Nok-hin. Photo: Catherine Lai/HKFP.

Asked about Ip’s protest, Au said: “I think… let it pass. I have no comment. I only have a lot of question marks over my head.”

Gary Fan said he will immediately ask to join the committees considering the national anthem law and the joint checkpoint arrangement.

Gary Fan
Gary Fan. Photo: Catherine Lai/HKFP.

“The election is over. But now we have to start our work,” he said. “The pro-democracy camp and I will be vigilant over less than ideal laws that may harm the public.”

Legal challenge

A resident in Hong Kong Island’s Eastern District – assisted by a pro-Beijing district councillor – has filed a judicial review challenge over Au Nok-hin’s eligibility to run for election. They said that Au was not eligible due to his alleged promotion of self-determination and Hong Kong independence.

The application for the review will be heard by a court on March 28.

When pro-Beijing lawmaker Vincent Cheng took his oath, pro-democracy lawmaker Eddie Chu also protested: “Shame on DAB party giving away gift bags” Chu chanted.

Vincent Cheng oath
Vincent Cheng. Photo: Catherine Lai/HKFP.

A pro-democracy district councillor has accused Vincent Cheng of offering voters gift bags which could have been collected after the election. Cheng has denied the allegations.

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.