Mayhem at Hong Kong Legco as duo demand to take oaths

Mr Sixtus Baggio Leung and Ms Yau Wai Ching from the Youngspiration party leaving a press conference, held after they were not allowed to take their Legislative Council oaths in Hong Kong yesterday.
Mr Sixtus Baggio Leung and Ms Yau Wai Ching from the Youngspiration party leaving a press conference, held after they were not allowed to take their Legislative Council oaths in Hong Kong yesterday.PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

Session suspended after pan-democrats back activists even as thousands rally against them

Several pro-democracy lawmakers formed a human chain to escort two pro-independence lawmakers- elect into Hong Kong's legislature yesterday even as thousands rallied outside to condemn the pair.

A media frenzy erupted as Mr Sixtus Baggio Leung, 30, and Ms Yau Wai Ching, 25, showed up yesterday morning and demanded to be sworn in.

At the oath-taking ceremony on Oct 12, the pair from Youngspiration displayed a banner that read "Hong Kong is not China" and pronounced China as "Cheena", deemed demeaning to Chinese. This led Legislative Council (Legco) president Andrew Leung to invalidate their oaths.

Ms Lau Siu Lai, an independent, also had her oath disallowed for speaking too slowly and taking long pauses between the lines.

 

The trio were initially scheduled to retake their oaths yesterday, but Mr Andrew Leung changed his mind the night before and also decided to bar the Youngspiration pair from the chamber for the time being.

"Democratically elected lawmakers need to take their oaths," independent lawmaker Eddie Chu shouted as he and his pan-democrat colleagues bundled the two localists into the Legco yesterday.

  • From protesters to poll winners

  • SIXTUS BAGGIO LEUNG, 30

    The Youngspiration convenor is one of five people who founded the political party after Hong Kong's "Umbrella Revolution" in 2014.

    Better known as Baggio Leung, the e-commerce manager received 37,997 votes, which helped him secure one of nine seats in New Territories East in the Sept 4 polls. Mr Leung, who graduated from the City University of Hong Kong, was the president of its students' union in 2007.

    He was reported to have had a close relationship with the Chinese Liaison Office in Hong Kong.

    People first came to know of him after he took part in the district council elections last November.

    YAU WAI CHING, 25

    Ms Yau shot to fame after she beat incumbent Raymond Wong with 20,643 votes to secure a seat in Kowloon West constituency in last month's polls.

    Last year, she ran against legislator Priscilla Leung in the Whampoa East district council election, losing by only 304 votes.

    Ms Yau went on to serve as Youngspiration's Whampoa community officer.

    Born in Hong Kong, Ms Yau grew up in a middle-class family with both her parents working in the government sector. She attended Queen Elizabeth School and studied Chinese language at Lingnan University.

    She became interested in politics when a protest erupted over a national education plan during her university days.

    In 2014, Ms Yau took part in the Umbrella Revolution. She later joined Youngspiration and has been involved in the campaigns to promote localism in Hong Kong.

    Joyce Lim

Mr Andrew Leung had to adjourn yesterday's meeting twice in 30 minutes before he eventually called for it to be suspended "because order cannot be restored".

While the pan-democrats do not approve of the duo's oath-taking behaviour, they accused the Legco chief of buckling to pressure from Chief Executive Leung Chun Ying and 39 pro-Beijing lawmakers to prevent the pair from taking their seats in the legislature.

"Andrew Leung is incapable of performing his role," Democratic Party convenor James To told a press conference yesterday, saying his party would call for him to step down.

But the decision found support among a huge pro-Beijing crowd outside the Legco building. According to organisers, about 10,000 people, many of whom were waving China's national flag, took part in the rally.

"The behaviour of the pair during their swearing-in ceremony offended a lot of people, especially those on the middle ground," said political analyst Willy Lam.

Dr Lam felt the Chief Executive's move "to suppress anti-China sentiments" and "discredit the localists" by seeking a judicial review on the Legco chief's decision to allow the pair to retake their oaths would please Beijing, and might even bolster his hopes of seeking a second term in office.

He said he does not rule out the possibility of a by-election if the judicial review hearing on Nov 3 decides that the two lawmakers should not be allowed to retake the oaths.

Mr Sixtus Leung, who vowed to keep his Legco seat, said: "If we lose this war... our system is done for. We have no room to retreat."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 27, 2016, with the headline 'Mayhem at HK Legco as duo demand to take oaths'. Print Edition | Subscribe