HK extremists barred from office

By Chen Heying Source:Global Times Published: 2016/11/8 0:23:39

NPC interpretation may sway upcoming ruling from HK High Court


(From left) Hong Kong Chief Secretary for Administration Carrie Lam, Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying, Secretary for Justice Rimsky Yuen and Secretary for Constitutional and Mainland Affairs Raymond Tam arrive for a press conference Monday following a ruling by the National People's Congress Standing Committee on two elected pro-independence lawmakers. Photo: AFP

(From left) Hong Kong Chief Secretary for Administration Carrie Lam, Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying, Secretary for Justice Rimsky Yuen and Secretary for Constitutional and Mainland Affairs Raymond Tam arrive for a press conference Monday following a ruling by the National People's Congress Standing Committee on two elected pro-independence lawmakers. Photo: AFP



China's top legislature on Monday approved an interpretation to Hong Kong's mini-constitution, a move that experts believe will not only disqualify two pro-independence legislators-elect, but bar all pro-independence advocates in Hong Kong from assuming public office.

The interpretation of Article 104 of the Basic Law of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (SAR) was adopted at the bimonthly session of the National People's Congress (NPC) Standing Committee by unanimous vote.

It makes clear that anyone who fails to legally and validly take the oath and swear to uphold the Basic Law of the SAR will be ineligible to take office.

Hong Kong Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying said Monday that he and the SAR government support and will fully implement the interpretation.

"The interpretation demonstrates the central government's firm determination and will in opposition of 'Hong Kong independence,'" said a spokesperson with the Hong Kong and Macao Affairs Office of the State Council on Monday, hailing the adoption of the interpretation as "absolutely necessary" and timely.

Experts said the interpretation will likely sway an upcoming ruling by Hong Kong's High Court over the disqualification of lawmakers Sixtus Baggio Leung Chung-hang and Yau Wai-Ching from taking their oath of office for the Legislative Council (LegCo).

Both Leung and Yau displayed a blue banner bearing the words "Hong Kong is not China" during their oath-taking ceremony at LegCo on October 12. They also pronounced China as "Chee-na," a derogatory term used by the Japanese to refer to China during their invasion in World War II.

According to the interpretation, to uphold the Basic Law and to bear allegiance to the Hong Kong SAR are not the only the legal requirements which must be included in the oath, but also the requirements and preconditions for standing for election in respect of or taking up public office specified in the Article 104.

"The interpretation will also prevent pro-independence civil servants from entering the local government, court and legislature from the very beginning, instead of disqualifying them after being elected," Tian Feilong, a legal expert, also assistant professor at Beijing-based Beihang University, told the Global Times.

The article encompasses the chief executive, principal officials, members of the executive council and of the legislative council, judges at all levels of courts and other members of the judiciary in Hong Kong.

This measure has "legalized" the previous practice that set loyalty to the country as a prerequisite for election, Tian noted. Candidates running for the 2016 LegCo election, including Leung and Yau, signed a "confirmation form" as requested stating their acceptance of Hong Kong's status as an inalienable part of China.

Some 2,000 Hong Kong police officers will be deployed round the clock this week to maintain social order following violence early Monday, the SCMP reported.

Judicial independence remains



Article 158 of the Basic Law states that the NPC Standing Committee holds the right to interpret the law. Experts have not ruled out the possibility of more interpretations to contain pro-independence Hongkongers in the future.

"It is our duty to wield power [over law interpretation], but we will not intervene in the SAR in exercising its high degree of autonomy," Li Fei, deputy secretary general of the NPC Standing Committee, told a press briefing on Monday.

"Both judicial independence and interpretation can co-exist, and they do co-exist under our constitutional framework as housed in the Basic Law," Hong Kong's Secretary for Justice Rimsky Yuen was quoted by Radio Television Hong Kong as saying on Monday.

"The NPC only comes in for matters related to national defense, diplomacy, national security, relations between the central government and the SAR, as well as those that fall within its autonomy but endanger national security," Tian said.

Since the farce made by the pro-independence legislators-elect has already paralyzed the LegCo, it must be solved by the NPC, Zou Xueping, vice dean of the Law School of Shenzhen University, told the Global Times.

"It is because the NPC had been prudent to give constant and precise legal guidance to the Hong Kong judicial organs that the city is rife with pro-independence sentiment," Tian said.

However, he pointed out that it remains to be seen how Leung and Yau's cases will develop after the NPC interpretation, given previous disagreements that occurred between the interpretations and the Hong Kong court.

The first NPC Standing Committee interpretation in 1999 overturned a ruling by Hong Kong's Court of Final Appeal on the right of abode. The court had boldly stated that it had the power to declare acts of the NPC and its Standing Committee invalid if they breached the Basic Law, the SCMP reported.

Xinhua contributed to this story




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