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Fight breaks out at Hong Kong legislature

Yau Wai-ching and Sixtus Leung ran into the legislative chamber for the second time to attempt to retake their oaths of office after their first oaths were invalidated weeks ago because they changed the words.

By Stephen Feller
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Fight breaks out at Hong Kong legislature
Security guards remove legislator-elect Yau-Wai-ching (L) from the main chamber of the Legislative Council as pan-democrats legislators protect her in Hong Kong, China, on Wednesday. Legislators-elect Sixtus Leung and Yau stormed the main chamber demanding to retake the legislator oath. The LegCo president suspended the meeting. Photo by Jerome Favre/EPA

HONG KONG, Nov. 2 (UPI) -- The back-and-forth argument on whether to allow two newly elected separatist members of Hong Kong's Legislative Council to retake their oaths of office resulted in one of them having to be restrained by security.

The incident is raising concern that China will exert its influence on the Hong Kong government.

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Yau Wai-ching and Sixtus Leung ran into the legislative chamber and attempted to retake their oaths Wednesday as China has asked the courts in Hong Kong to determine if the two can legally be permitted to do so. The Hong Kong government supports blocking the two, however China's involvement has many concerned.

Yau and Leung are two of five new lawmakers whose oaths of office were rejected by the legislative council, known as LegCo, because they changed the oath and made a derogatory reference to China. Three have retaken their oaths, but Yau and Leung have been blocked by Hong Kong's government from doing so.

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In mid-October, the Hong Kong government demanded the courts block Yau and Leung from joining LegCo. The judge refused but allowed a judicial review of whether they could retake their oaths. Despite the lawsuit, the LegCo president invited them back to the legislature to take the oaths. So many members of the parliament walked out, though, that there were not enough left to form a quorum and Yau and Leung could not be sworn in.

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Last week, Yau and Leung barged into the chamber, with some legislators forming a human chain to get them in. Parliament was adjourned as they walked in, though, so they could not be sworn in. On Wednesday, they ran into the chamber again and tried to take their oaths. Yau claimed later she'd recited the oath and had been sworn in, but Leung was restrained by security and was not able to do the same.

"If someone runs into the chamber, says a bunch of stuff and then claims to be sworn in, that's absurd," said pro-China legislator Starry Lee. "If they cared so much about the oath they wouldn't have used the oath as a platform to promote their pro-independence agenda the first time they were being sworn in."

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China resumed rule of Hong Kong from Britain in 1997, agreeing to allow the city to continue using its well-developed court system and representative government to self-rule until at least 2047. Whether Hong Kong should be given true independence, rather than simply permitted to do what they want unless China disagrees, is controversial in the city and among its legislators -- hence furor on both sides regarding the actions of Yau and Leung.

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The mini-constitution which defines Hong Kong's government includes a clause that allows the National People's Congress in China to have final say over Hong Kong governmental actions. It has been invoked five times since 1997, but this would be the first time it would make a decision invalidating any action by the court system there.

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