Yau Wai-ching and Baggio ‘Sixtus’ Leung have been disqualified from holding office after criticising China during their swearing-in ceremony
A Hong Kong court has banned two pro-democracy politicians from the city’s parliament, after Beijing intervened to rewrite local laws.
Yau Wai-ching and Baggio “Sixtus” Leung are disqualified from holding office, the high court judge, Thomas Au, said in his ruling.
During a swearing-in ceremony in October, Yau and Leung altered the text of their oaths, declaring allegiance to the “Hong Kong nation”, unfurling banners that said “Hong Kong is not China” and using an expletive to refer to China.
The symbolic protest enraged officials in Beijing and led Hong Kong’s chief executive to launch an unprecedented legal challenge, seeking to remove the pair from office. Yau had previously said that she would appeal against the ruling if it disqualified her.
Legislators must swear allegiance to “the Hong Kong special administrative region of the People’s Republic of China”, according to the Basic Law, the city’s mini-constitution.
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Before the court could rule, Beijing’s parliament, the National People’s Congress, invoked a seldom-used power to rewrite Hong Kong’s Basic Law. Those wishing to hold public office must “sincerely and solemnly” declare allegiance to China, the NPC said.
The move was the most direct intervention in the city’s politics since the handover of Hong Kong by the British to China in 1997, and dealt a major blow to a campaign led by the city’s youth for greater autonomy or outright independence.
At the time of the handover, the city was allowed to keep many freedoms and an independent judiciary under a framework known as “one country, two systems”. But many say those freedoms have been increasingly restricted in recent years, and Beijing has the final say over a wide range of political issues.
The day before Beijing released its ruling, there were violent clashes with police after more than 10,000 people marched through Hong Kong’s financial centre, protesting against interference.
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