Four LegCo members disqualified after China's top legislature sets HK lawmaker criteria

By Chen Qingqing and Bai Yunyi Source: Published: 2020/11/11 13:55:23

Shortly after China's top legislature adopted a decision on the qualifications of members of LegCo, four opposition lawmakers — Alvin Yeung Ngok-kiu, Kwok Ka-ki, Dennis Kwok Wing-hang and Kenneth Leung Kai-cheong — who have notorious records for creating trouble and are deemed unfit from their LegCo duties, were disqualified from the local legislature in Hong Kong with immediate effect .  

The move showed that China's top legislature authorizes and supervises the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR) government in effectively implementing relevant articles of the Basic Law concerning lawmakers who should pledge allegiance to the HKSAR and China when assuming office, and fulfill their LegCo duties, legal experts said. 

Compared to the process of disqualifying lawmakers or candidates by local electoral officers from LegCo elections in Hong Kong, the NPC's decision on Hong Kong lawmakers' qualifications comes with much higher authority which local courts in Hong Kong must obey.

It is also widely seen as "a justified and long-awaited move" to bar unpatriotic lawmakers with notorious records from LegCo election who won't be able to escape punishment, observers said. 

The National People's Congress (NPC) Standing Committee formulated a set of arrangements, including the standards for disqualifying Hong Kong LegCo lawmakers, according to the Xinhua News Agency. 

Lawmakers will be disqualified for office immediately after they are determined by law to have failed to meet the legal requirements of upholding the Basic Law and honoring the pledge of allegiance to Hong Kong.  

The decision lists circumstances deemed failing to meet these requirements, which include if they advocate or support "Hong Kong independence," refuse to recognize China's sovereignty over the HKSAR, seek interference in Hong Kong affairs by foreign countries or external forces, or commit other acts endangering national security. 

Twelve candidates, including secessionist Joshua Wong, for Hong Kong's LegCo election, originally scheduled for September 6, were disqualified by the Electoral Affairs Commission (EAC) in July, as they failed to meet the requirements of the elections, in addition to being infamous for their misdeeds. While the EAC can decide whether lawmaker candidates can pursue their positions, the disqualification of incumbent lawmakers requires a two-thirds majority vote from LegCo members. 

When some media speculated on whether the disqualification of local lawmakers would bypass local legislature of Hong Kong, Tam Yiu Chung, a member of the National People's Congress Standing Committee, told the Global Times on Wednesday that those disqualified lawmakers can apply for judicial review at local courts. 

"However, local courts won't process their cases if the top legislature has made the decision on the matter," Tam said. 

This decision applies to members of the sixth-term LegCo who were ruled invalid by the HKSAR in accordance with the law during the nomination period for the seventh-term legislative council election of the HKSAR, originally scheduled to be held on September 6, 2020.

The decision shall also apply to all those who run for the LegCo office  or serve as members of the LegCo in the future in the above circumstances.

The Liaison Office of the Central People's Government in HKSAR and Hong Kong and Macao Affairs Office of the State Council said they firmly support the HKSAR government's decision to disqualify the four lawmakers, stressing that  patriots governing Hong Kong is a political rule that must be firmly guarded.

The four are also among 12 candidates who were disqualified by local electoral officers for failing to meet the requirements of the elections, which should have been held in September but were postponed for a year due to the coronavirus outbreak. Some were disqualified for advocating "Hong Kong independence" while others sought foreign sanctions or deliberately vetoed government plans. 

The NPC Standing Committee's decision also provides further an indication for local electoral officers to set stricter criteria for candidates to pursue positions of lawmakers, which shows the central government's overall jurisdiction over Hong Kong affairs, Tian Feilong, a Hong Kong affairs expert at Beihang University in Beijing, told the Global Times on Wednesday. 

"This can be seen as a Hong Kong version of the 'patriotic act,' setting requirements for implementing 'one country, two systems' more properly," Tian said. 

Since the social turmoil triggered by the now-withdrawn anti-extradition bill, Kwok blatantly supported riot activities and covered for black-clad rioters, using "filibustering tactics" to paralyze LegCo meetings for seven months, while Civic Party lawmaker Yeung opposed the national security law for Hong Kong, pushing ahead the "35 plus" campaign that aims to paralyze the current Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR) government. 

Another Civic Party lawmaker, Kwok Ka-ki, even made pleas to foreign forces to impose sanctions on Hong Kong and to interfere in the internal affairs of the HKSAR. Opposition lawmaker Leung constantly smeared the Hong Kong Police Force and maliciously attacked the national security law for Hong Kong. 

About 62 percent of respondents to a recent survey conducted from Friday to Monday in Hong Kong believed that people who do "not sincerely" support the Basic Law should not serve as LegCo lawmakers. And 62 percent considered that the four lawmakers who do not truly support the law should be disqualified. 

The survey was carried out on the basis of 1,071 samples. 

While turning a blind eye to the majority support in Hong Kong society to bar the insincere and disloyal public servants, lawmakers from the Hong Kong opposition camp continued to "kidnap public opinion" by threatening mass resignations. 

When setting the basic policy of "one country, two systems" and "Hong Kong people governing Hong Kong" proposed by former Chinese leader Deng Xiaoping, the standards and the bottom lines are clear: the main body of Hong Kong people administering Hong Kong must be patriots. 

And at the fourth plenary session of the 19th Central Committee of the Communist Party of China (CPC) in October 2019, Xi Jinping, general secretary of the CPC Central Committee, also emphasized that the main body of Hong Kong people administering Hong Kong must be patriots. 

"The central government appeared to be very disappointed by the behavior of opposition lawmakers after the LegCo meetings resumed, and is probably angered and has no willingness to spend more time observing it," Lau Siu-kai, former policy adviser to the central government on Hong Kong policies and vice-president of the Chinese Association of Hong Kong and Macao Studies, told the Global Times on Tuesday. 

The top authority is also well prepared for these so-called "mass resignations," Lau noted. After these trouble-making opposition lawmakers leave LegCo, the legislature will be able to fully cooperate with the HKSAR government, advancing social, livelihood and economic policies at full speed. 

The NPC Standing Committee aims to introduce a set of political standards that fit into the LegCo structure of the HKSAR, which is also in line with the core spirit of "one country, two systems," Lawrence Tang Fei, a member of the Chinese Association of Hong Kong and Macao Studies, told the Global Times. 

"As a result, those who fail to meet those standards, including incumbent lawmakers, should be disqualified, which will ensure opposition lawmakers display proper political behaviors, " he said. 

For LegCo lawmakers, sincerely upholding the Basic Law, which clearly states that Hong Kong is an inseparable part of China, is the basic legal and political obligation, which is also basic political ethics, according to observers. 

The Article 104 of the Basic Law stipulates that when assuming the office, the chief executive, principle officials, members of the Executive Council and of the LegCo, judges of the courts at all levels and other members of the judiciary in the HKSAR must, in accordance with law, swear to uphold the Basic Law of the HKSAR. They also swear allegiance to the HKSAR and China.

The central government had intended to handle these four lawmakers in a more tolerant manner, hoping that they would change their behaviors and correct misdeeds, Lau noted. 

"Following recent incidents, Beijing believed that the opposition camp has no intention of cooperating with the central government in a pragmatic way but to seek support from extreme forces, and their 'lam chau' or "burn with us" mentality and filibustering tactics have severely impeded the governance of Hong Kong," he said. 

"Lam chau," which roughly means "self-destruct together," has become a commonly heard slogan among anti-government groups in Hong Kong to pursue their political goals. 

"LegCo will also ratify its rules of procedures to prevent malicious filibustering that obstructs LegCo operations," Lau added.


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