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Court disqualifies Hong Kong legislators over altered oaths

Published 15/11/2016

Yau Wai-ching outside the high court in Hong Kong (AP)
Yau Wai-ching outside the high court in Hong Kong (AP)

Two newly elected Hong Kong legislators who altered their oaths by adding anti-China insults have been disqualified by a court from taking office.

A High Court judge ruled that Sixtus Leung and Yau Wai-ching, of the separatist Youngspiration party, violated a section of the semi-autonomous Chinese territory's mini-constitution, the Basic Law, as well as laws covering oaths taken by officials.

The judge sided with Hong Kong's leader, chief executive Leung Chun-ying, and justice secretary Rimsky Yuen, who had filed a legal challenge aimed at preventing the two from taking their seats, arguing that they had effectively declined to take their oaths by distorting them at the swearing-in ceremony last month.

The provocative tactics used by Mr Leung, 30, and Ms Yau, 25, also included displaying a flag that said "Hong Kong is Not China" and using an old-fashioned derogatory Japanese term for China.

Ms Yau inserted a curse word into her pledge while Mr Leung crossed his fingers.

In an unprecedented step, Beijing responded by handing down its own interpretation of the Basic Law last week, circumventing Hong Kong's courts and raising fears that the city's wide autonomy and independent judiciary under Chinese rule were being undermined.

China's leading legislative panel, the National People's Congress Standing Committee, sparked protests with its decision that anyone advocating independence for Hong Kong should be disqualified from office, ruling out a second chance for Mr Leung and Ms Yau to take their oaths.

Hong Kong courts are required to enforce such rulings, though judge Thomas Au said it had no effect on his decision.

"By seeking to make a mockery of China and the People's Republic of China in a derogatory and humiliating manner, it is objectively plain that Mr Leung and Ms Yau refused to pledge allegiance to the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region as an inalienable part of the People's Republic of China," he said.

AP

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