Residents outside the High Court hold placards and shout slogans on July 14, 2017 to support the disqualification of four lawmakers who did not follow required procedures when they took their oaths to serve on the Legislative Council in Oct last year. (Roy Liu / China Daily)
Hong Kong’s legal professionals support the court’s decision to disqualify four lawmakers from their membership of the Legislative Council.
Barrister-at-law and legislator Priscilla Leung Mei-fun said the judgment “restored the dignity of LegCo” and clarified the requirement laid down in the “one country, two systems” principle and the Basic Law.
The disqualified lawmakers should blame no one but themselves, she added. Such disrespectful acts demonstrated their irresponsibility to themselves and to voters.
She hoped the judgment would send a clear message to Hong Kong people and future LegCo candidates about the importance of the oath and also allegiance to the city and the country.
Another lawyer-turned lawmaker Junius Ho Kwan-yiu said the ruling “brought order out of a chaos”. It offers a chance for society to have a brand new start after rounds of political wrangling.
Ho said he respected the decisions by Hong Kong voters. However, a lawmaker had to respect the rule of law.
Barrister and Chairman of the China-Australia Legal Exchange Foundation Lawrence Ma Yan-kwok said he noticed some new points in the judgment.
“The judge showed acceptance and respect to the previous interpretation by the National People’s Congress Standing Committee (NPCSC),” Ma said. He said this had changed an earlier impression that Hong Kong’s courts seem to prefer using local ordinances when they alone can solve a case.
This could be seen as a step forward for local courts in terms of upholding the “one country, two systems” principle.
He said another change is that the judge put more emphasis on their expressions, acts and behavior before and after the inauguration, instead of just focusing on the oath itself. This may set a precedent for future cases, Ma said.
Basic Law expert Song Sio-chong said the judgment was strictly in line with last year’s Basic Law interpretation. This safeguards the special administrative region’s and the country’s dignity, he said.
The professor at the Research Center of Hong Kong and Macao Basic Law, Shenzhen University hoped the case could set an example for all members of Hong Kong’s governing institutions. It showed that a NPCSC interpretation must be respected in the city.
Some people in society had been surprised by the lawsuit. But Vice-President of the Chinese Association of Hong Kong and Macao Studies Lau Siu-kai said these people had underestimated the determination of the SAR government and the central government to safeguard the dignity of the “one country, two systems” principle and the authority of the Basic Law.
He said the move showed the central government would not allow anyone to insult the nation and Basic Law for political advantage.
The disqualification was also recognized by members of the public. The city’s biggest political party – the Democratic Alliance for the Betterment and Progress of Hong Kong issued a statement that the High Court ruling had “clarified what is right”. It has safeguarded the Basic Law, rule of law and the dignity of the legislature.