TIME Hong Kong

Pro-Independence Hong Kong Lawmakers Won’t Be Allowed to Take Office Until Court Rules

HONG KONG-CHINA-POLITICS-DEMOCRACY-LAWMAKERS
Aaron Tam—AFP/Getty Images Newly elected pro-independence lawmakers Baggio Leung, left, and Yau Wai-ching speak to the press outside the High Court in Hong Kong on Oct. 18, 2016

The legislature's president cited threats of filibustering by pro-China members and upcoming court case as justification

Two rebel Hong Kong lawmakers, who do not accept that the territory is part of China, will not be permitted a third attempt to take their oaths of office on Wednesday.

Calling the situation “unprecedented,” Legislative Council president Andrew Leung announced at a press conference Tuesday that he would put the swearing-in of Yau Wai-ching, 25, and Sixtus “Baggio” Leung (no relation), 30, on hold, until a court reaches a decision on the government’s unprecedented judicial review of his powers, the first hearing of which will take place in November.

In addition, Leung said, the pair would be barred from entering the chamber for tomorrow’s meeting. He cited threats by pro-China legislators “to forestall [the legislature’s business] at all cost” to prevent the duo from taking office.

“We have chosen to be the child in the Emperor’s New Clothes,” a defiant Sixtus Leung said in response to the president’s ruling at a press conference shortly afterwards. He also implored security guards at the legislature to not block them from making attempts to enter the chamber.

Yau suggested that she and Sixtus Leung would try to take their oaths at Wednesday’s meeting regardless, citing provisions regarding oath-taking in the Legislative Council’s rules of procedures.

The pair’s second attempt to be sworn in last week was disrupted when Beijing loyalists triggered an adjournment by walking out en masse, leaving the chamber without a quorum.

Hong Kong Legislative Council Swears in New Lawmakers
Anthony Kwan—Bloomberg/Getty Images Yau Wai-ching, an incoming lawmaker and member of Youngspiration, unfurls a banner that reads “Hong Kong Is Not China” during an oath-taking ceremony in the chamber of the Legislative Council in Hong Kong on Oct. 12, 2016

The duo from the radical Youngspiration party, elected on a wave of local sentiment against Chinese encroachment in September, have been barraged nonstop by condemnation and criticism from pro-China public figures for allegedly humiliating China and hurting the feelings of ethnic Chinese people around the world during their first attempt to take office at the legislature’s first meeting on Oct. 12.

During that meeting, Leung wrapped himself in a blue banner reading “Hong Kong Is Not China” when it came for him to swear his oath of office. He also deviated from the original oath by pledging allegiance to the “Hong Kong nation” instead of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region as a part of China. Yau also pledged her allegiance to the “Hong Kong nation.”

What mostly triggered the outpour of anger from pro-China groups however was their pronunciation of China as “Shina” — a Japanese affectation regarded as highly derogatory following the wartime occupation. Yau went gone one step further in her pledge, apparently calling the People’s Republic of China “the People’s Ref-cking of Shina.”

The territory’s Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying called the pair’s turn of phrase “insulting” and “unacceptable” Tuesday.

Starry Lee, chair of the pro-China Democratic Alliance for the Betterment and Progress of Hong Kong, told local media Tuesday that she would use any “feasible means,” including a repeat of last week’s walkout, to stop Yau and Sixtus Leung from taking office.

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