Civic Party lawmaker Dennis Kwok has said that expects to be ousted from the Legislative Council, after he was repeatedly attacked by Beijing who claimed he was violating his oath and guilty of misconduct in public office.
The Hong Kong and Macau Affairs Office (HKMAO) issued a fresh statement on Tuesday to reiterate previous accusations against Kwok, saying he was abusing his power to deliberately stall the election of the House Committee chairperson.
The HKMAO said the democrat – who presided over 15 committee meetings since last October – along with other opposition lawmakers, were “entangled” in matters irrelevant to choosing the chair. The stalling tactic led to bills and motions that concerned citizens’ interests being set aside.
The office also questioned Kwok’s loyalty in upholding the Basic Law, citing his opposition to the enactment of the controversial national anthem law. The law, which will criminalise insulting the national anthem March of the Volunteers was approved by China’s legislative body in 2017. Violators in China face detention of up to 15 days by police, or criminal prosecution.
“Is this what dedication to serve the HKSAR would look like? The facts are clear and there is ironclad proof,” the HKMAO wrote. It added: “Dennis Kwok and others must respond to the questions truthfully, rather that eagerly creating other topics to divert public attention.”
Responding to Beijing’s new round of criticism, Kwok said on Tuesday that the “One Country, Two Systems” in Hong Kong has been “completely shattered.”
He said if a lawmaker performing his duties based on the Rules of Procedure or opposing certain bills would be seen as breaking their oath and violating the principle of “one country,” then the Legislative Council would become “a Hong Kong version of the National People’s Congress.”
“The events of the past few weeks are very clear – the Central People’s Government is now exercising their so-called comprehensive jurisdiction over every aspect of Hong Kong domestic affairs. This was predicted a few years ago, but it is happening right now. I think that the Hong Kong people should see it, and I’m sure they can see it,” Kwok said at a press conference on Tuesday.
The democrat added Beijing’s intention to disqualify him as a Legislative Council member was very clear, saying that “the writing is on the wall.” But Kwok said it was his “life-long honour” to fight for freedom and democracy for Hongkongers.
“Disqualifying me is very easy indeed, [it] may happen very soon. If being able to have the opportunity to defend and fight for democracy, rule of law and freedom for and on behalf of the Hong Kong people, this is the glory of me and my colleagues,” he said.
“And the Hong Kong people, I hope, will never give up, because you are the only and last line of defence. If you give up, we’ll lose,” he added.
Basic Law Article 22 row
Beijing’s attack on Kwok has sparked another row over whether Article 22 of the Basic Law – which bars interference from Beijing’s departments in Hong Kong’s domestic affairs – was applicable to the HKMAO and the liaison office, and whether the agencies have power to supervise matters in the city.
Following the controversy over the Hong Kong government’s conflicting statements over the weekend, the HKMAO issued a separate press release on Tuesday to say that the Central Government had the authority and responsibility to safeguard the “constitutional order” in Hong Kong.
“The central authority grants the HKSAR a high degree od autonomy, but it doesn’t mean the central authority doesn’t have or gives up its supervisory power,” the statement read.
The office said critics who questioned the role of the liaison office using Article 22 had not considered the “uniqueness” of the agency, adding that such a view was “inaccurate.”
“Although the Basic Law did not give clear provisions to the settings and legal status of the liaison office… it is a Central Government agency, responsible for representing the central authorities to handle Hong Kong’s affairs,” the HKMAO said.