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23 July 2017

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07/15/2017 HONG KONG – CHINA

Court removes four opposition members for failing to take their oath of office properly

With their disqualification, the opposition loses its ability to block parliamentary decisions. The court acted on the urging of the chief executive, “inspired” by Beijing.

Hong Kong (AsiaNews) - "Inspired" by Beijing, Hong Kong’s Legislative Council (LegCo) has rid itself of four lawmakers after the High Court disqualified them yesterday for failing to take the proper oath of office.

Elected in October 2016 with the Demosisto party, the four belong to the new tougher pro-democracy opposition that emerged in the wake of the Occupy Central movement. Although a minority, it could block the LegCo, until the four’s removal.

Hong Kong’s former chief executive, Leung Chung-ying, dropped the old attitude of tolerance and turned to the courts to get rid of them after Beijing set new guidelines in November, demanding that lawmakers take the oath of office in a "sincere and solemn" manner without any change to the text.

This boosted the chief executive’s line, but for Joshua Wong, a young Demosisto leader, this is the most serious attack on democracy.

According to the court, one of the expelled lawmakers, Nathan Law, 23, took the oath in a tone that "expressed a doubt on or disrespect of the status of the [People's Republic of China] as a legitimate sovereign of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region”.

Lau Siu-lai was expelled because she took too long between words, making the oath incomprehensible. Edward Yiu was disqualified for adding words.

Next month, the Court of Final Appeal, Hong Kong’s highest court, is set to hear an appeal and possibly bring in an international judge.






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