Chaos as two lawmakers crash Hong Kong Legco session to retake oath

Mr Sixtus Leung (centre, wearing glasses) being restrained by security officers after attempting to recite the oath at the Legco Chamber yesterday. Describing the acts of Mr Leung and Ms Yau as violent and premeditated, the Legco president strongly c
Mr Sixtus Leung (centre, wearing glasses) being restrained by security officers after attempting to recite the oath at the Legco Chamber yesterday. Describing the acts of Mr Leung and Ms Yau as violent and premeditated, the Legco president strongly condemned their behaviour. For their part, the Youngspiration pair denied any wrongdoing.PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

Chaos reigned at the Hong Kong Legislative Council (Legco) Chamber yesterday as two new, pro-independence lawmakers barred from it barged their way in and read their swearing-in oath before being thrown out.

Mr Sixtus Leung and Ms Yau Wai Ching completed their oath amid angry chanting by pro-Beijing lawmakers who condemned their behaviour and questioned their eligibility to retake their oath.

The drama continued in the afternoon as the pair tried to re-enter the chamber and a security guard fainted in the scuffle. In all, six guards were taken to hospital and police had to be called in to help restore order, Legco president Andrew Leung told the media.

The pair from Youngspiration had their earlier oath-taking invalidated on Oct 12 because they had displayed a banner that read "Hong Kong is not China" and pronounced China as "Cheena" which was deemed to demean China.

They had done so to push their pro-independence agenda but it may have backfired as Chief Executive Leung Chun Ying has called for a judicial review of whether they can take their oaths again.

Their oaths yesterday were invalidated by the president who said he was standing by his earlier decision not to swear them in before the matter had been heard in court.

Earlier on, new lawmaker Lau Siu Lai was allowed to retake her oath. Her first was not valid as she had read the oath with long pauses in between the lines.

A motion to launch an inquiry into the HK$50 million (S$9 million) payment from Australian corporation UGL Limited to the Chief Executive was also passed.

It was then that Ms Yau, 25, entered the Chamber, followed by Mr Sixtus Leung, 30.

Ms Yau took out a microphone from her bag and recited the oath in Cantonese, even as the president told her to leave the chamber.

When Mr Sixtus Leung tried to recite the oath, security officers went up to restrain him. Seeing that, several pan-democrat lawmakers went up to stop them. At the same time, female security officers surrounded Ms Yau and tried to carry her out of the chamber.

In the chaos, the president called for the meeting to be continued in a conference room. When the session resumed in the afternoon, the Youngspiration pair again tried to gatecrash it, scuffling with security officers, leading to the secretariat seeking assistance from the police.

Describing the acts of the duo as violent and premeditated, Mr Leung, the Legco president, strongly condemned their behaviour.

For their part, the Youngspiration pair denied any wrongdoing. "Chaos was created by the president and security and not us," said Ms Yau.

Mr Sixtus Leung said: "The way we took the oath is proper and legal to us."

The Legco president said yesterday that he hoped the judicial review, which will be heard in court today, will have an outcome before next Wednesday's session.

Today, China's National People's Congress Standing Committee will be discussing an interpretation of the Basic Law, Hong Kong's mini- Constitution, as revealed in its meeting agenda. This comes after Chief Executive Leung said he could not rule out Beijing doing so in relation to the oath-taking of the Youngspiration pair.

Analysts have said China will do what it can to bar the two lawmakers from Legco for what they did.

Professor Lau Siu Kai of the semi-official Chinese Association of Hong Kong and Macau Studies told The Straits Times last week: "Beijing is determined to bar them because both of them have violated the Basic Law and the local ordinances. To allow them into Legco would be an insult to the country."

Last night, hundreds of protesters staged a march to the central government's Liaison Office, condemning the Chief Executive's move to seek Beijing's interpretation of the Basic Law, which they said undermined the independence of the city's judiciary.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on November 03, 2016, with the headline 'Chaos as 2 lawmakers crash Legco session to retake oath'. Print Edition | Subscribe