A group of pro-establishment Hong Kong politicians have staged a walkout during a Legislative Council session, with the intent of barring two pro-independence legislators from re-taking their oaths of office. The two localist politicians of the Youngspiration party amended the oaths they were intended to recite, modifying words (by pledging allegiance to “Hong Kong nation”) and purposely mispronouncing “China” in a manner reminiscent of the derogatory “Shina” used by the Japanese during World War II. Legislative Council President Andrew Leung allowed the pair to re-take their oaths, stating that it was his “constitutional obligation” to permit them to perform their duties as popularly-elected lawmakers. In response, pro-China lawmakers forced LegCo President Leung to adjourn the session and prohibit their political adversaries from formally joining the Legislative Council.
The fiasco that has unfolded in the past few days is the culmination of heated opposition between pro-establishment and pro-democracy lawmakers that has intensified in recent months. According to an article in the South China Morning Post, Secretary for Justice Rimsky Yuen Kwok-keung filed a request to the High Court on behalf of Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying, challenging the legality of Andrew Leung’s decision to allow the pro-independence legislators to retake their oaths. The New York Times reported that “the High Court declined the government’s request for an injunction but has agreed to consider an application for a judicial review that could unseat Ms. Yau and Mr. Leung [the two pro-independence candidates] even if they are sworn in this month”. Many pro-democratic politicians have since accused the Chief Executive of “ruining the separation of powers by inviting the courts to intervene in LegCo’s domestic affairs”.
These flagrant and distasteful displays of anti-Chinese government sentiment by the two newly-elected politicians have fueled further accusations by pro-establishment legislators of their disrespecting and abusing LegCo rules. However, in staging a walkout to bar fellow validly-elected legislators from taking their oaths of office, are pro-China lawmakers not violating quorum (and by implication LegCo) rules as well? Ultimately, by insulting their adversaries, making claims of unconstitutionality, and refusing to cooperate with Council rules and regulations, both political camps are causing a legislative gridlock and promoting political chaos.