15 flubbed oath-taking in Legco: Chinese official

HONG KONG • A senior Chinese official said 15 Hong Kong lawmakers - not just the duo at the centre of an oath-taking controversy - had "messed up" their legislature swearing-in oaths.

Mr Wang Zhenmin, head of the legal department at the Chinese liaison office in Hong Kong, made the comments at a seminar in Shenzhen, the South China Morning Post (SCMP) reported on Wednesday. He did not name the 15 people.

This is believed to be the first official confirmation of Hong Kong media reports that many more of the city's lawmakers risk losing their seats in the wake of a rare Beijing ruling on Monday stipulating that Hong Kong public office holders must be "sincere" in taking their swearing-in oaths.

Beijing had issued an interpretation of Hong Kong's Basic Law, or mini-Constitution, over the oath- taking issue.

Hong Kong Chief Secretary Carrie Lam declined to say if the government would mount judicial reviews against lawmakers whose oaths might not have complied with Beijing's ruling.

Pro-independence lawmakers Sixtus Leung and Yau Wai Ching had sworn allegiance to a "Hong Kong nation" and insulted China during their oath-taking in the Legislative Council (Legco) last month.

Chinese University political scientist Ivan Choy Chi Keung was quoted by SCMP as saying: "Mainstream public opinion has shown disfavour towards Leung and Yau already... If Beijing is seeking to disqualify 15 lawmakers, it means they are not just fighting independence advocates, but launching a full- scale purge of dissident voices."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on November 11, 2016, with the headline '15 flubbed oath-taking in Legco: Chinese official'. Print Edition | Subscribe