HK lawmaker who insulted national flag removed from LegCo, 'shows govt’s commitment to restoring political life security in city'
Published: Aug 27, 2021 12:32 AM
Legislative Council (LegCo) building of China's Hong Kong Special Administrative Region.Photo: Xinhua

Legislative Council (LegCo) building of China's Hong Kong Special Administrative Region.Photo: Xinhua

Cheng Chung-tai, a Hong Kong lawmaker, was removed from the Legislative Council (LegCo) on Thursday, after the vetting committee examined his qualifications and decided that he does not fit for the role which requires candidates to pledge allegiance and being loyal to Hong Kong, making him the first person to fail in the vetting process after the committee was established. 

The Candidate Eligibility Review Committee (CERC) has determined that Cheng’s proposed registration for Election Committee (EC) ex-officio member is invalid and he was disqualified from being a LegCo member, as he failed to meet the legal requirements and conditions for being an ex-officio member, John Lee Ka-chiu, Chief Secretary for the Hong Kong Administrative Region (HKSAR) announced the decision on Thursday. 

The CERC looked at his case holistically and came to a decision that they need to seek an opinion of the Committee for Safeguarding National Security of the HKSAR, according to the HKSAR government website.  
“The national security committee then gave us an opinion to indicate that he has not complied with the requirement of upholding the Basic Law and bearing allegiance to the Hong Kong SAR,” Lee said. 
“We have come to the determination that Cheng has not fulfilled the legal requirement of upholding the Basic Law and bearing allegiance to the Hong Kong SAR and we have already sent notification to him,” Lee said. 
The committee will not be fooled by people who are just pretending to pledge allegiance to the SAR and upholding the Basic Law, Lee was quoted by Hong Kong media reports as saying. 

Cheng’s disqualification as a lawmaker came into effect immediately. He later told the Hong Kong media that he respected the committee’s decision, noting the committee had questioned him about his writings and past words and deeds. 

Lee said the vetting committee has examined 1,498 EC candidates.  

The Standing Committee of the National People's Congress (NPC) adopted a decision in November 2020 that would immediately disqualify Hong Kong LegCo members who do not fulfill the legal requirements and conditions on upholding the Basic Law and pledging allegiance to the HKSAR, including acts endangering national security, supporting "Hong Kong independence" or seeking foreign meddling in Hong Kong affairs.  

The standing committee of China’s top legislative body in March approved the Hong Kong electoral reform plan, with revised measures for electing the Hong Kong chief executive and the formation of the LegCo, which was seen as another major step in tackling the loopholes in the city's governance structure.

Cheng is seen as a radical political figure in Hong Kong, and it is not surprising to rule him out given his previous destructive behavior, a Hong Kong affairs expert who requested anonymity told the Global Times on Thursday.   

Cheng attracted public attention in 2016 after he damaged China’s national flag and the HKSAR’s flag at the LegCo, saying he did not regret these actions. In 2017, he was convicted and fined for flag desecration.

On August 30, 2019, Cheng was arrested by police on suspicion of conspiring to destroy or damage property in the LegCo building amid social unrest. He was also the only legislator to vote against the national anthem ordinance passed in June 2020. 

The HKSAR government is determined to ensure political security, which means Cheng has lost his qualification to participate in political activities in the city for now, the expert said. 

Experts said that ensuring the participation of genuine patriots in Hong Kong's political life is a priority in reshaping the city’s political atmosphere after the riots in 2019. At the same time, the principle of “being a patriot and loving Hong Kong” also applies to Hong Kong society as a whole, so Cheng’s story will serve as a warning to society.