By Kelcin Chan AP
HONG KONG — Two newly elected Hong Kong separatist lawmakers who altered their oaths by adding anti-China insults were disqualified from taking office in a court decision Tuesday.
A High Court judge ruled that Sixtus Leung and Yau Wai-ching of the Youngspiration party violated a section of the semiautonomous Chinese city’s mini-constitution, the Basic Law, as well as laws covering oaths taken by officials.
But Justice Thomas Au said his decision wasn’t influenced by Beijing’s controversial intervention last week in the dispute aimed at blocking the two from getting a second chance.
The judge sided with Hong Kong’s leader, Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying, and Justice Secretary Rimsky Yuen, who had filed a legal challenge aimed at preventing the two from taking their seats, arguing that they had effectively declined to take their oaths by distorting them at the swearing-in ceremony last month.
Provocative tactics by Leung, 30, and Yau, 25, also included displaying a flag that said “Hong Kong is Not China” and using an old-fashioned derogatory Japanese term for China. Yau inserted a curse word into her pledge while Leung crossed his fingers.
“By seeking to make a mockery of China and the People’s Republic of China in a derogatory and humiliating manner, it is objectively plain that Mr. Leung and Ms. Yau refused to pledge allegiance to the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region as an inalienable part of the People’s Republic of China,” the judge said.
In an unprecedented step, Beijing handed down its own interpretation of the Basic Law last week, circumventing Hong Kong’s courts and raising fears that the city’s wide autonomy and independent judiciary under Chinese rule were being undermined.
China’s top legislative panel, the National People’s Congress Standing Committee, sparked protests with its decision that under the Basic Law anyone who doesn’t take their oath accurately, “sincerely and solemnly” should be barred from office.
While Hong Kong courts are required to enforce such rulings, Au said he would have come to the same decision with or without Beijing’s interpretation.
Yau disagreed. “The government used a lot of ways to put pressure on the court,” she told reporters. “The court made this judgment after coming under heavy pressure and the result is what we have expected.”