Hong Kong’s largest pro-Beijing party on Monday called on the government to establish monitoring committees to ensure district councillors abide by their soon-to-be mandatory oaths of allegiance. DAB members also called on the government to expedite the oath-taking arrangements to “set things right” among district councillors.
The government announced plans last Thursday to introduce amendments to local laws setting out mandatory oaths to be taken by the city’s 479 district councillors after the Lunar New Year. The new amendment will require all district councillors to swear to uphold the Basic Law and pledge allegiance to the city and detail the consequences for those deemed to have breached the oath.
All but one district councils were won by pro-democracy candidates, after they swept the board in the 2019 local elections.
In a letter addressed to the Secretary for Home Affairs Caspar Tsui, the group called on the government to expedite the amendment and to ensure those who violate their oaths face appropriate action: “We call on the government to implement arrangements for the district councillor’s oath-taking as soon as possible… to ban those who oppose the Chinese government and sow discord in Hong Kong from becoming public officers.” DAB lawmaker for the District Councils constituency Lau Kwok-fan said, reading the letter.
The lawmaker added that the Oaths and Declarations Ordinance and the District Councils Ordinance should also be amended “to define the district councillors’ consequences of violating the oath, as well as mechanisms for such arrangements.”
Lau also said the monitoring mechanisms should be overseen by Secretary Tsui, and called on the government to takeover district councillors’ functions to distribute public funds to the community.
The letter was signed by 86 district councillors from the pro-Beijing party.
The calls for closer monitoring of the city’s district councillors came amid growing fears Hong Kong authorities are moving to quash all political dissent.
Local media have cited sources as saying China’s top legislature is seeking to stamp out the political influence of district councillors, who also get a say in who is selected as chief executive.
All civil servants are required to undertake an oath of allegiance to the government. Last week, authorities announced plans to extend the oath requirement to all government workers, including contractors.
Officers who support or promote Hong Kong independence, refuse to acknowledge China’s sovereignty over the city or express opinions contrary to the government’s stance in their official capacity, would be deemed to breach the declaration
Four opposition lawmakers were abruptly ousted last November following a decision by Beijing allowing the government to unseat lawmakers it deemed to have violated their oaths of allegiance. The rest of the democratic camp collectively resigned in protest and solidarity.