Hong Kong LegCo adopts bill requiring oath-taking by all district councilors
Published: May 12, 2021 09:50 PM
Hong Kong legCo Photo: VCG

Hong Kong legCo Photo: VCG

The Legislative Council (LegCo) of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR) voted on Wednesday to approve the bill on public servants' candidacies and taking up offices, requiring all district councilors to swear allegiance as soon as next month. The move was widely applauded, as loyalty pledges by civil servants and people who run for public positions are a basic political and ethical standard.

After a third reading at the LegCo, the bill was approved, requiring all district councilors to pledge loyalty to the Basic Law and the HKSAR. It stipulated that if any LegCo lawmaker or district councilor violates their allegiance, or does not comply with the Basic Law and local laws, the Department of Justice can initiate legal procedures to suspend the positions of relevant officials until the court makes a final decision, according to local media reports. 

Starry Lee Wai-king, chairwoman of the Democratic Alliance for the Betterment and Progress of Hong Kong, was quoted as saying in media reports that the move can prevent radical political figures from entering the administrative structure, by bringing political life in the city back to the right track. 

Some district councilors have played an infamous role of provoking conflicts and instigating hatred toward the HKSAR government, diverting from their original purpose of serving communities. "Requiring all district councilors to pledge loyalty shows that district councils can't be a place for 'laam chau'," Andrew Fung Wai-kwong, a commentator in Hong Kong, told the Global Times. 

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

"To make sure officials act strictly in line with their oaths, the Home Affairs Bureau is expected to play a more significant role of supervision, in addition to legal measures by the Department of Justice," Fung suggested. 

Since the anti-government protests in 2019, many district councilors took part in street protests, while some slogans and banners calling for "Hong Kong independence," which were suspected of violating the national security law for Hong Kong, showed up occasionally at the district councils. Hong Kong local media also reported that about 20 anti-government officials have resigned from their positions as district councilors so far, due to relevant national security cases. 

When asked whether the latest requirement will trigger a mass wave of resignations among district councilors, Tian Feilong, a Hong Kong affairs expert at Beihang University in Beijing, told the Global Times on Wednesday that it would be completely normal for some district councilors to resign. 

"Given that the district council election in 2019 had deficiencies, which allowed many unqualified officials to enter the administrative structure, some officials resigning now also showed they clearly understand they are not qualified to meet the principle of 'only patriots governing Hong Kong'," Tian said. 

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