The Hong Kong government has disqualified another 16 district councillors from the New Territories following the final oaths of loyalty ceremony. It leaves about 60 pro-democracy councillors in office – a fraction of the approximately 388 seats once held by the pro-democracy camp after they swept the elections.

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

The Home Affairs Bureau announced on Thursday its final list of district councillors whose oaths of allegiance to the government were considered invalid. The government’s oath administrator initially questioned the validity of oaths offered by 17 councillors, with one opting for resignation before the final decision came down. It left 16 disqualified.

The last batch of district councillors disqualified for invalid oaths were unseated with immediate effect, including Roy Kwong.

Kwong was a prominent figure during the 2019 protests, and one of the few democrats spared any protest or national security-related prosecutions.

Invalid oaths announced on 21.10.2021: Click to view.

Tsuen Wan District Council
1. Mr Lam Sek-tim
2. Mr Li Hung-por
 
Tuen Mun District Council
1. Mr Tsang Kam-wing
2. Mr Cheung Kam-hung, Kenneth
 
Yuen Long District Council
1. Mr Lai Kwok-wing
2. Mr Wong Wai-yin, Zachary
3. Mr Kwong Chun-yu
4. Mr Cheung Chi-yeung, Felix
5. Mr Ng Hin-wang
6. Ms Lai Po-wa
7. Ms Chan Sze-nga
8. Mr Lee Wai-fung
 
Kwai Tsing District Council
1. Mr Tong Ho-man
2. Miss Leung Ching-shan
 
Islands District Council
1. Mr Wong Chun-yeung
2. Mr Tsui Sang-hung, Sammy

Pro-democracy candidates took control of 17 of the 18 district councils during the 2019 November election, in the wake of the anti-extradition bill protests.

Roy Kwong. File photo: Etan Liam, via Flickr.

But the government introduced mandatory oaths of allegiance for the city’s local-level representatives earlier this year, after requiring all civil servants to take the same pledge shortly after Beijing’s passing of the national security law last June.

The polls were the only fully democratic elections in the city.

Over 260 resigned

The introduction of the oaths, and the ensuing rumours that salary and benefits will be recouped from councillors who faced disqualification, prompted over 260 individuals to resign ahead of the ceremonies.

Following four oath-taking ceremonies, which began in early September, oaths taken by 49 district councillors have been ruled invalid, although no explanation was provided. Under the amended Oaths and Declarations Ordinance, the disqualified district councillors will be banned from standing in elections for the next five years.

Tsuen Wan District Council’s first meeting in 2020. File Photo: Stand News.

In other words, the oaths taken by 147 councillors were ruled valid – of which 120 were directly elected, and 27 were ex-officio rural committee members.

Four others requested to delay their oath-taking. The government also cancelled the oath-taking ceremony for Leung Kam-wai, who is in custody on national security charges, awaiting trial.

In December, 2019, Chief Executive Carrie Lam vowed that the new pro-democracy councillors would be respected and treated equally, though said they should “respect the conventions and rules” established over the year.

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Selina Cheng

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.