A Hong Kong court on Thursdayrefused to grant the four pan-democrat lawmakers caught up in the latest oath-taking storm extra time to access legal aid. The four face a legal challenge lodged by the government barring them from the Legislative Council. Here are how events have unfolded since the oath-taking ceremony back in October.
Non-affiliated lawmaker Edward Yiu Chung-yim was the first to have his oath rejected after adding his own phrases at the oath-taking ceremony. Three other lawmakers had their oath validated for various reasons: lecturer Lau Siu-lai read her oath deliberately slowly; former Occupy student leader Nathan Law Kwun-chung changed the tone of his voice when saying the word China; and veteran lawmaker “Long Hair” Leung Kwok-hung chanted political slogans.
Youngspiration lawmakers Yau Wai-ching and Sixtus Baggio Leung Chung-hang also had their oaths invalidated after inserting derogatory language and swearing allegiance to a “Hong Kong nation”.
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Legislative Council president Andrew Leung Kwan-yuen invalidated sociology lecturer Lau Siu-lai’s oath. The government also took the unprecedented step of mounting a legal challenge to disqualify two Youngspiration lawmakers on grounds that they had contravened the Basic Law.
Only Yiu had his oath validated after retaking his pledge.
Lau was successfully sworn in.
Beijing reinterpreted the Basic Law over Yau and Sixtus Leung’s swearing-in oaths. The National People’s Congress Standing Committee has clarified the definition and requirements of “swear in accordance with the law” in Article 104 of Hong Kong’s Basic Law – which covers members’ oaths – following the ongoing oath-taking controversy.
Hong Kong’s High Court has ruled that the Youngspiration lawmakers caught up in the oath-taking saga must vacate their seats.
The government decided to take Lau to court after succeeding in having two others disqualified for failing to take their oaths of office properly.
Two Youngspiration lawmakers lost their appeal against a ban preventing them from taking up their seats in the Legco.
Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying launched an all-out legal offensive against the pro-democracy camp, moving to have all four lawmakers disqualified over improper oath-taking. The government announced it had “commenced legal proceedings” against lawmakers Leung Kwok-hung, Nathan Law Kwun-chung, Edward Yiu Chung-yim and Lau Siu-lai , asking the High Court to declare their oaths invalid and their Legco seats vacant. None of them have advocated Hong Kong independence, although Law and Lau have called for self-determination.
The two Youngspiration lawmakers announced that they would take their case to the Court of Final Appeal. Their seats were declared vacant by Legco on December 5 after they were disqualified by the Court of First Instance and the Court of Appeal upheld the ruling.
Court of First Instance judge Mr Justice Thomas Au Hing-cheung declined to give four pan-democratic lawmakers the normal 42-day period to allow legal aid applications to be processed. They all filed legal aid applications. Mr Justice Au made the decision after government barrister Benjamin Yu SC told him the case had to be expedited as it was of “tremendous importance” and involved the four’s rights to vote in the chief executive election in March next year.
Although refusing to grant extra time, the judge adjourned the case until the week of February 6 to allow the four to prepare their cases.