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Taking oath 'like being robbed at gunpoint'

Mr Sixtus Leung won a seat in Hong Kong's Legislative Council even though he was not his party's first-choice candidate for New Territories East. He came in after favourite Edward Leung was banned by Beijing.
Mr Sixtus Leung won a seat in Hong Kong's Legislative Council even though he was not his party's first-choice candidate for New Territories East. He came in after favourite Edward Leung was banned by Beijing.PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

Sixtus Leung has no regrets over actions that led to intervention by Beijing

He is nicknamed Baggio after the pony-tailed Italian football maestro Roberto Baggio.

Like a substitute coming off the bench to score the winning goal, Mr Sixtus Leung Chung Hang won a seat in Hong Kong's Legislative Council (Legco) even though he was not his party's first-choice candidate for New Territories East.

The e-commerce manager was a stand-in for pro-independence activist Edward Leung, who was a favourite to win a seat in New Territories East but was banned by Beijing from running in the Sept 4 Legco elections.

Mr Sixtus Leung, 30, who had planned to run in Hong Kong Island territory at first, was fielded in New Territories East instead.

A former student leader at the City University of Hong Kong, Mr Sixtus Leung is part of a group of young radical activists who emerged out of the 2014 Umbrella movement. The activists seek not just to preserve a high degree of the city's high autonomy, but for it to be separated from the mainland - which Beijing will not stand for.

On Sept 4, Mr Leung won one of nine seats in New Territories East with 37,997 votes, largely on the back of votes from Mr Edward Leung's supporters.

  • Last week, Beijing handed down an interpretation of Hong Kong's Basic Law which effectively removes two pro-independence lawmakers from the Legislative Council. The Straits Times Hong Kong Correspondent Joyce Lim looks at their atypical route to Legco.

In an interview with The Straits Times after his election victory, Mr Leung vowed to lead discussions on Hong Kong's independence in Legco, a move which analysts warned could cause disruptions to Legco sessions.

Mr Leung said his family has become more supportive following his win, which they see as a sign that Hong Kongers are frustrated and want a change in the government.

Earlier, Mr Leung had said - albeit very grudgingly - that he had no issues abiding by a new controversial electoral rule which requires candidates to declare that Hong Kong is part of China.

"It's like I am being robbed at gunpoint and the robber will let me go only after I take an oath. Now, would you take the oath? Of course I will," Mr Leung told the local media then.

But on Oct 12, during the Legco swearing-in ceremony, Mr Leung refused to swear allegiance to Hong Kong as an inalienable part of China, like fellow Youngspiration politician Yau Wai Ching.

Draping a blue banner with the words "Hong Kong is not China" over his shoulders, he thrice pronounced China as "Chee-na" - which is deemed demeaning to China. His oath was invalidated and he was subsequently banned from the Legco.

Mr Leung and Ms Yau had also likely angered Beijing by attending a seminar in Taiwan and calling for Hong Kong to "insulate" itself from China.

Dismissing accusations that his actions were immature and had sparked Beijing's drastic intervention - which might lead more lawmakers to be banned from the Legco - Mr Leung told reporters last week he does not regret what he has done. "The person who called for Beijing's intervention is responsible and that person is not Leung Chung Hang," he said.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on November 14, 2016, with the headline 'Taking oath 'like being robbed at gunpoint''. Print Edition | Subscribe