The Hong Kong government will introduce a bill to amend local laws relating to official oath-taking procedures to “deal with” those who have breached their oaths under Article 104 of the Basic Law, according to Wednesday’s policy address.
The proposed legislation, presented by Chief Executive Carrie Lam, will set out new arrangements for oath-taking by public officials and the legal consequences of breaching pledges of loyalty to the government.
The bill looks to implement Beijing’s decision earlier this month to allow the government to disqualify legislators deemed to be unpatriotic: “The provisions of the Article are not only the legal content which must be included in the oath, but also the legal requirements and preconditions for standing for elections,” the policy address read.
Possible legal ramifications of breaching official oaths may include imprisonment, according to government sources. Other potential changes include granting an oath administrator the power to deem whether an oath is invalid, whereby an official may be immediately ousted for violations – bypassing the city’s courts. The administrator will be appointed by Chief Executive Carrie Lam.
The bill will propose amendments to the Oaths and Declarations Ordinance and the Legislative Council Ordinance.
China’s highest legislative body passed an interpretation of the Basic Law earlier this month granting the government power to immediately disqualify legislators deemed to have breached their oaths under the Basic Law. Article 104 of the Basic Law requires that legislators, public officials and members of the judiciary “swear to uphold the Basic Law… and swear allegiance to the HKSAR.”
Acts including advocating or supporting ‘Hong Kong Independence’ and “soliciting intervention by foreign or external forces in HKSAR affairs” are violations of the official oath, according to the policy address.
Four opposition legislators were ousted by the government earlier this month for purportedly being in breach of their Article 104 oaths. In response, 15 fellow democrats announced they would leave the legislature in a sign of solidarity, leaving the legislature with no effective opposition.
Additional Reporting: Rachel Wong