District councillors from Kowloon have sworn an oath of allegiance to the Hong Kong government under a new rule to ensure that only “patriots” hold office, with just one councillor refusing to do so.

Lawrence Lau
Lawrence Lau (left). Photo: Stand News.

The ceremony for 55 councillors took place at the North Point Community Hall on Friday morning, just as the government officially gazetted the disqualification of eight district councillors from Hong Kong Island. The oaths taken by seven of them two weeks ago were deemed invalid, while one had refused to swear.

Councillors whose oaths which were accepted – click to view

Yau Tsim Mong District Council
1. Mr Hung Chiu-wah
2. Mr Lee Wai-fung
3. Mr Hui Tak-leung
4. Mr Chung Chak-fai
5. Mr Lam Kin-man
6. Mr Chu Tsz-lok
7. Mr Ho Fu-wing
Sham Shui Po District Council
1. Mr Mak Wai-ming
2. Mr Li Ting-fung
3. Ms Lau Pui-yuk
4. Mr Yuen Hoi-man
5. Ms Ng Yuet-lan
6. Mr Chum Tak-shing
7. Mr Ho Kwan-chau
8. Ms Ng Mei, Carman
Kowloon City District Council
1. Mr Yeung Chun-yu
2. Mr Yang Wing-kit
3. Mr Wong Kwok-tung
4. Mr Ho Hin-ming
5. Mr Ng Po-keung
6. Miss Leung Yuen-ting
7. Mr He Huahan
8. Mr Cheung King-fan
9. Mr Pun Kwok-wah
10. Ms Lee Wai-king, Starry
11. Mr Lam Tak-shing
12. Mr Cho Wui-hung
Wong Tai Sin District Council
1. Ms Tam Heung-man
2. Mr Liu Sing-lee
Kwun Tong District Council
1. Mrs Poon Yam Wai-chun, Winnie
2. Ms Lai Po-kwai
3. Mr Tam Siu-cheuk
4. Mr Ngan Man-yu
5. Ms Fu Pik-chun
6. Mr Lam Wai
7. Mr Cheung Pui-kong
8. Mr Hsu Yau-wai
9. Mr Chan Yiu-hung, Jimmy
10. Mr Or Chong-shing, Wilson
11. Mr Kan Ming-tung
12. Ms Tse Suk-chun
13. Mr Pang Chi-sang
14. Mr Lui Tung-hai
15. Mr So Koon-chung, Kevin
16. Mr Leung Tang-fung

In a press release on Friday night, the government said it had requested more information from 10 district councillors owing to “doubts on the validity” of their oaths. All councillors from Hong Kong Island who were previously requested to provide more information were disqualified days later.

Councillors who were requested to “provide more information” – click to view

Yau Tsim Mong District Council
1. Ms Wu Sui-shan
2. Mr To Kun-sun, James
3. Mr Tsang Tsz-ming
4. Mr Chu Kong-wai
Sham Shui Po District Council
1. Mr Lau Wai-chung
Kowloon City District Council
1. Mr Tsang Kin-chiu
2. Mr Kwok Tin-lap
3. Mr Yum Kwok-tung, Pius
Wong Tai Sin District Council
1. Mr Mock Ho-chit, Sean
Kwun Tong District Council
1. Ms Leung Yik-ting, Edith

The new rule was introduced after pro-democracy councillors won a sweeping victory in the district council elections in November 2019.

When the time came for the Kowloon councillors to swear allegiance, Sham Shui Po District Councillor Lee Man-ho announced he would not take part.

District councillors oath The oath-taking ceremony was administered by Secretary for Home Affairs Caspar Tsui
The oath-taking ceremony was administered by Secretary for Home Affairs Caspar Tsui. Photo: GovHK.

“Election results were supposed to be confirmed since the 2019 District Council election ended, but not only did the tyrannical SAR government not review its own mistakes, it instead created new oppressive laws and added rules to rewrite the results of an election,” he wrote on social media on Thursday.

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“I refuse to endlessly cooperate with the government, as there was no such rule on oaths when I entered the election.”

Among those who took their oaths were veteran democrats including former lawmaker James To and Ramon Yuen, but some were likely to be disqualified later. Officials consider past actions and speeches to assess whether oaths were deemed to have been sincerely taken.

After the end of the ceremony Lawrence Lau told reporters he meant his oath sincerely and considered it an obligation for public office, HK01 reported. Yuen said he decided to take the oath “because serving residents in my neighbourhood is always my priority,” and hoped to complete his term.

Barrister Lau has been charged under the national security law along with 46 other democrats over an opposition primary in July 2020 and is on bail awaiting trial.

Also taking the oath on Friday were social worker and former Civic Party member Ken Tsang and Democratic Party member Edith Leung.

Eight disqualified

The chairperson of the largest pro-Beijing party the DAB and Kowloon City District Councillor Starry Lee said she believed the government would “act in accordance with the law” and would consider councillors’ past speech and deeds.

Twenty-four district councillors from Hong Kong Island took their oaths two weeks ago, but the government asked for supplementary information from seven of them, saying it doubted their oaths were genuine. They were later disqualified.

james to
James To. Photo: Citizen News.

The pro-democracy camp won 388 out of 479 district council seats in the November 2019 election in the wake of months of sometimes violent protests against an extradition bill – a major blow to the pro-Beijing camp.

But over 260 of them have since resigned, after pro-government media reported that the authorities may reclaim pay and allowances from them if their oaths of allegiance are deemed to be invalid.

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Selina Cheng is a Hong Kong journalist who previously worked with HK01, Quartz and AFP Beijing. She also covered the Umbrella Movement for AP and reported for a newspaper in France. Selina has studied investigative reporting at the Columbia Journalism School.