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Hong Kong’s most senior politician, Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying, said on Monday that his government would “fully implement” a ruling from Beijing that effectively bars two elected pro-independence lawmakers from the city’s legislature.
After the standing committee of the Chinese Communist Party’s National People’s Congress (NPC) announced its verdict that the pair had deliberately misread their oaths of office – and that they should not be permitted to retake them – Leung said that verdict would be obeyed.
“Any words or deeds that deliberately contravene (the central government’s) requirements, defy the prescribed oath-taking procedures, or even use the opportunity to insult the country and the Chinese people and advocate secession, must be stopped in accordance with the law,” Leung said.
The two pro-independence lawmakers, Yau Wai-ching and Baggio Leung, had included expletives and derogatory terms in their oaths of office last month. They were initially offered a chance to re-take their oaths, but both the Hong Kong government and Beijing acted to stop that happening.
Leung added: “The NPC has been very careful when exercising its right (of interpretation) and does not exercise unless it is necessary… (The) central government has always paid attention to Hong Kong affairs.”
Outside the Hong Kong government’s headquarters, public reaction was mixed.
“I believe that the Hong Kong independence movement will now grow up faster and stronger”
“They [the NPC] are not just interpreting the Basic Law (Hong Kong’s mini-constitution), they are actually adding and changing the law,” said Shirley Man, a social worker. “It’s scary. They can change our law any time they want and we are not protected.”
Jiang Long, a mainland Chinese professional who has lived in Hong Kong for the past decade, said however: “They (the two radical lawmakers) were asking for it. They were just looking for publicity. They underestimate the reactions of the Central government. They are too young.
“Besides, they can try to get re-elected in four years.”
Tony Kong, a young man who had attended protests against Beijing’s intervention said: “I’m more than angry. Surely this violates the independence of law in Hong Kong. I’m worried about the future here. Without judicial independence, the economy will also be damaged.”
Lawrence Chan, a local activist, said: “The NPC interpretation will destroy our judicial independence. And I believe that the Hong Kong independence movement will now grow up faster and stronger.”