HK localist lawmakers declare 'war' after appeal bid rejected

HONG KONG • An appeal bid by two anti-China lawmakers against their disqualification from Hong Kong's legislature has been rejected, as the activists declared "war" on the authorities.

Mr Sixtus Baggio Leung, 30, and Ms Yau Wai Ching, 25, are part of a new movement calling for semi-autonomous Hong Kong to split from China, as concerns grow that Beijing is cracking down on freedoms in the city.

The pair deliberately misread their oaths of office, inserted expletives and draped themselves with "Hong Kong is not China" flags during a swearing-in ceremony in October.

They were disqualified from retaking their oaths by Hong Kong's High Court, after an intervention by Beijing.

Hong Kong's Court of Appeal yesterday rejected an attempt to overthrow the disqualification in November. It also rejected their bid seeking leave to take their case to the city's Court of Final Appeal, Hong Kong's highest court.

Speaking outside the court, Mr Leung told reporters that the pair would continue to push their case.

"This is the beginning of a war," he said.

If an application for leave to appeal is refused by the Court of Appeal, an application may be made to the Court of Final Appeal for such permission.

Justice Maggie Poon based her ruling on a special "interpretation" of the city's Constitution by Beijing in November that effectively prevented Ms Yau and Mr Leung from taking up their seats because of the way they took the oath.

The latest judgment said Beijing's interpretation was "binding on the courts" in Hong Kong, with the local and national systems "being within one country".

An appeal would only be granted if it had "reasonable prospects of success", even if the case was of great public interest, the ruling said. The court also ordered the pair to pay costs of HK$167,851 (S$30,979) each.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 17, 2017, with the headline 'HK localist lawmakers declare 'war' after appeal bid rejected'. Print Edition | Subscribe