Hong Kong's last British governor Chris Patten holds a yellow umbrella symbolizing the Occupy Central movement in Hong Kong during an Oxford Union event in London, UK, on November 1, 2014. Photo: AFP/Oxford Union/EyePress

Former Hong Kong governor Chris Patten says taking any oath of office is “serious business” and those who take it lightly are making a mockery of democracy.

“Taking an oath is a serious business. I’ve taken oaths on several occasions. I took an oath when I came to Hong Kong,” Patten said at a packed Foreign Correspondents’ Club (FCC) lunch event titled, The World After Trump and Brexit.

In an interview with The Financial Times before the event, Patten criticized two disqualified Hong Kong lawmakers Sixtus ‘Baggio’ Leung and Yau Wai-ching.

Leung and Yau pledged allegiance to the “Hong Kong nation”  during their attempts to take their oaths of office last month.

The Youngspiration pair, who represent a new breed of more radical activists moving into Hong Kong’s political mainstream, had their swearing-in oaths invalidated in October due to the language and a banner they used that was deemed derogatory to China.

Patten insisted that he was still a staunch proponent of democracy, but added: “Taking oaths isn’t something of a lark. The situation in Britain, which seems to me to be a perfectly reasonable one, is if you won’t take an oath you can’t join the club.

“We have a political party in Northern Ireland, Sinn Fein, made up of Republicans who won’t swear an oath of allegiance to the Queen who can’t take their place in Parliament. Simple as that. And I would guess that there are legislatures all over the world, which have similar requirements.

Freedom of the media

“I think it’s mistaken to confuse the argument about the nature of Hong Kong’s really special citizenship. The way in which people know this community.

“The relationship between freedom of speech, freedom of the media, due process, independence of the judiciary. The way people know the relationship between those things and their own prosperity and well-being.

“I think it’s a mistake to confuse that with some headline grabbing remarks about independence.

“I had great admiration and I still have great admiration for those who campaign for democracy, but not those whose campaign dilutes support for democracy and makes a mockery of a serious political argument.”

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