Politics | 'Hong Kong autonomy in peril' if Beijing rules on local saga
Security guards block pro-Hong Kong independence legislator-elect Yau Wai-ching (right) from entering the city's Legislative Council chamber to re-take her oath. Photo: REUTERS/Bobby Yip
Security guards block pro-Hong Kong independence legislator-elect Yau Wai-ching (right) from entering the city's Legislative Council chamber to re-take her oath. Photo: REUTERS/Bobby Yip

‘Hong Kong autonomy in peril’ if Beijing rules on local saga

Lawyers are worried the city is about to lose its judicial independence if Beijing rules on an oath-taking saga involving pro-independence legislators

Hong Kong, November 2, 2016 6:47 PM (UTC+8)

Hong Kong’s Bar Association is worried that the city is about to lose judicial independence and autonomy as expectation grows that Beijing may attempt to issue an interpretation of Hong Kong law in relation to the oath-taking saga of recent weeks.

Newly elected legislators Sixtus “Baggio” Leung and Yau Wai-ching, both from the pro-Hong Kong independence group Youngspiration, had their attempts to swear in to Hong Kong’s legislature thwarted last month due to their use of derogatory terms about China. The president of the legislature has barred the pair from re-taking their oaths following the government’s application for a judicial review. The hearing is set for Thursday.

The overseas edition of People’s Daily, a Chinese Communist Party mouthpiece, published an article on Wednesday condemning the duo as “insulting the country, spreading ‘independence ideas’ and challenging national sovereignty”, following a round of condemnation from Beijing loyalists in Hong Kong.

While the special administrative region’s Basic Law enshrines the principle of “one country, two systems”, it also gives the National People’s Congress, a Party rubber-stamp, the final say regarding the meaning of the law.

Many suspect such an interpretation is looming, even before the final ruling from Thursday’s hearing is out. Hong Kong’s top man, Chief Executive C.Y. Leung, said on Tuesday night that he would not rule out that possibility, and cancelled a planned trip to Beijing at the last minute.

The Hong Kong Bar Association issued a statement that said an interpretation made at this stage would “seriously undermine the confidence of the Hong Kong people and the international community in the high degree of autonomy of the HKSAR under the principle of One Country, Two Systems.”

“The irreparable harm it will do to Hong Kong far outweighs any purpose it could possibly achieve,” the association added.

After being forced to leave the chamber, Yau, the lawmaker-elect, said on Tuesday: “Once the Communist Party chooses to interpret the Basic Law, it means that the dictatorship of the Communist government will come to Hong Kong. The people of Hong Kong don’t want to see that.”

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