CATHOLIC NEWS OF THE WEEK . Sunday, 1 September 2019

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Spurious events for the LegCo

HONG KONG (SE): The Hong Kong Catholic Social Workers’ Organisation, the Justice and Peace Commission and the Social Concern Group from St. Thomas the Apostle parish in Tsing Yi, as well as around 20,000 people who signed a petition saying that the disqualification is trampling on the election results, have expressed deep concern over the barring of four members of the Legislative Council (LegCo) by the court on July 14.
All up, a total of six have now been barred from their seats for failing to take their LegCo Oath or Affirmation in accordance with the law.
The rules of the LegCo state that a legislative councillor must take the oath or affirmation in accordance with the Oaths and Declarations Ordinance as described by the court.
However, the fact that it was the former chief executive, Leung Chun-ying, who filed for legal action has become problematic for many people in Hong Kong, as they regard interference in the affairs of the LegCo by a person who is neither a member nor an elected official to be highly inappropriate.
Dorothy Lee Ching-man, the secretary general of the Hong Kong Catholic Commission for Labour Affairs, told the Kung Kao Po on July 17 that she believes an unelected chief executive meddling in the affairs of the elected members of the LegCo is problematic.
A returned councillor is a member from the date of the start of the term, customarily October 1, but cannot take part in meetings or vote in the chamber until they have taken the oath.
By filing a petition to disqualify those involved in the controversy over the manner of their oath taking, Leung has effectively prevented any of the four from taking part in LegCo business, leaving the representation in the chamber of what is roughly referred to as the Pan-Democrats and Localists with four seats out of action.
Lee said she is worried that as the group no longer has sufficient numbers to exercise the power of veto it won from the people in the election, what is roughly described as the pro-establishment camp may use the situation to pass policies that are against the interests of the people.
She is also worried that the LegCo may take the opportunity to amend its Rules of Procedure to further disempower those who sit on what can be described as the opposition benches.
Those who are concerned that the disqualification of the four rides roughshod over the will of the people as expressed on polling day on September 4 last year, point to the results of the vote.
The pan-Democrats and Localists won a clear majority at the polls in the constituencies the four were elected to represent.
Figures published by the Harbour Times show that the disqualified councillors picked up 48.1 per cent of the vote in Hong Kong Island against 39.95 for the pro-establishment sector and 11.95 per cent for other groups.
The story in Kowloon West, New Territories East and New Territories West was similar, where they picked up between 55.24 and 57.91 of the vote, against between 44.37 and 34.6 per cent.
The former bishop of Hong Kong, Joseph Cardinal Zen Ze-kiun, said in a blog on July 16 that he believes that in some countries a full-scale riot may have erupted if the government had attempted a similar sort of stunt.
He also questioned why Beijing chose to make an interpretation of the basic law on the matter, as it is one that normally belongs to the court, which was still deliberating at the time Beijing made its move.

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