A Legislative Council committee comprised of pro-Beijing legislators has submitted a report recommending the censure of Civic Passion lawmaker Cheng Chung-tai over his flipping of flags at a legislative meeting. If the motion is passed, Cheng will lose his seat.

Cheng was seen turning over Hong Kong and China flags during a legislative session in October 2016. The pro-Beijing camp had placed the flags on their tables as a protest against perceived insults against Chinese people made by localist legislators Baggio Leung and Yau Wai-ching – who were later ousted – during their oaths of office.

Cheng said at the time he considered the display of flags at the Legislative Council chamber to be “cheap patriotic acts.” He was later found guilty of desecrating the regional and national flags, and was handed a HK$5,000 fine.

Cheng Chung-tai. File photo: In-Media.

The legislature also formed a seven-person investigation committee headed by pro-establishment lawmaker Priscilla Leung over the matter. Leung said on Wednesday that the committee found Cheng’s behaviour constituted a “breach of oath” and “misbehaviour.”

The report said that, although Cheng pledged to uphold the Basic Law and swear allegiance to the Hong Kong government of the People’s Republic of China, his “repeated, open and deliberate humiliation of those flags” despite warnings would “lead a reasonable person to come to the view” that Cheng was not willing or had no intention to recognise the flag’s meaning.

It said the national flag “represents PRC with her dignity, unity and territorial integrity, while the regional flag is the symbol of HKSAR as an inalienable part of PRC under the principle of ‘one country, two systems.’”

The report added that, in the view of the committee, Cheng’s conduct “has not only brought serious discredit on LegCo but also tarnished the dignity of PRC and its HKSAR.”

“He conducted himself in such a way as to place himself in a position which is contrary to the generally assumed standard of conduct expected of a LegCo Member,” the report said.

The committee said it condemns Cheng’s conduct and “comes to the unanimous view” that there were grounds to censure Cheng.

Earlier this year, Cheng’s teaching contract with the Hong Kong Polytechnic University was not renewed due to his conviction, with the disciplinary letter saying that his conduct was “inconsistent” with the university’s “commitment to quality education and aspiration to embrace internationalisation.”

The censure motion will be put to a vote at a later date, and if it passes, Cheng would be stripped of his seat. However, passing the motion would require the support of two-thirds of all lawmakers attending the meeting. As the pro-democracy camp currently occupies more than one-third of the seats, it is unlikely to pass.

Priscilla Leung. File

Cheng said on Wednesday that he has been subjected to condemnation and persecution from the pro-establishment camp over the past two years.

He added that he believes the pro-democracy lawmakers would do their jobs dutifully, and would not vote against him. “I believe that if we support democracy and defend One Country, Two Systems, a situation where… the motion passes would not arise,” Cheng said.

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.