Disqualification of Hong Kong localist duo is about politics not ‘law’

Yau Wai-ching and Baggio Leung Chung-hang facing the axe from LegCo.

The undemocratic nature of Hong Kong’s political and judicial system is revealed

Adam N. Lee, chinaworker.info

The Youngspiration duo Yau Wai-ching and Baggio Leung Chung-hang have been kicked out of Hong Kong’s Legislative Council (LegCo) by the courts.

The government and establishment media are gloating. They have set their sights on removing more political victims from the LegCo. Their claim the Youngspiration pair “violated the Basic Law” is a smokescreen for a blatantly political witch-hunt.

The Youngspiration lawmakers walked into the establishment’s trap, isolating themselves from public sympathy with their racist and insulting conduct. Instead of attacking the Chinese dictatorship, the localist politicians incite racist feelings against ordinary Chinese people who are the victims of the same dictatorship.

Socialist Action (CWI in Hong Kong) has consistently opposed such views. But in our view the two politicians can only be removed from the legislature by the people at the next election, based on open and democratic discussion to expose their right-wing political platform. What is happening now is the opposite – an undemocratic purge by a regime which is using lies and threats to achieve its aims. Ultimately, this will blow back against the government and increase support for ‘separatism’ i.e. independence.

Who elected Your Honour?

The fate of Yau and Leung is being decided by those who have never been elected – the Chief Executive, High Court judges, Media bosses, and the dinosaurs of China’s National People’s Congress (NPC). Their aim is to dismantle democratic rights and turn the LegCo into an empty echo chamber for the government and the Chinese dictatorship. The Youngspiration duo are merely pawns in their much bigger plan.

Fight the government’s purge of the LegCo

All those who stand for genuine democratic rights must speak out against this purge. It is disgraceful that the pan-democratic Civic Party, dominated by lawyers, said it “respects” the High Court’s decision. Pro-Beijing DAB politician Elizabeth Quat hoped the case will act as a “reference for future cases” challenging the oaths of other lawmakers, the Hong Kong Free Press reported. Her comment shows what is really happening.

In the High Court case against the Youngspiration pair, Justice Thomas Au Hing-cheung delivered a blatantly political ruling, which has far-reaching implications for other cases. He swept aside the principle of ‘non intervention’ which previously established that the courts had no power to meddle in internal LegCo business, including the oath-taking ceremonies. This judgement has “diminished the constitutional significance of the LegCo,” says Johannes Chan Man-mun, former dean of law at the University of Hong Kong.

Even the Basic Law, a very undemocratic constitution that has never been voted upon, states in Article 79 that a lawmaker can only be disqualified for “misbehaviour or breach of oath by a vote of two-thirds of the members of the Legislative Council present.”

Here it is written in black and white – but now a government of liars and bullies is rewriting the rules in broad daylight!

Justice Au also ruled that in their oaths, Yau and Leung had violated the ‘One Country’ in the One Country, Two Systems formula. This echoes the NPC Standing Committee’s ruling, which made a significant change to the Basic Law, with possibly serious legal implications, ruling that oath-takers must pledge loyalty to “the People’s Republic of China and its Hong Kong SAR,” instead of the original version, “the Hong Kong SAR of the People’s Republic of China.” (SAR = Special Administrative Region).

Yau Wai-ching and Baggio Leung Chung-hang facing the axe from LegCo.
Yau Wai-ching and Baggio Leung Chung-hang facing the axe from LegCo.

Youngspiration’s weak defence

The government and the courts are now rushing through the legal process to finalise the political execution of the duo and declare by-elections. The courts are being used in a blatantly political fashion to tighten the case against other opposition legislators.

Socialists place no faith in the capitalist law courts. Today’s legal system is designed to defend ‘order’ in a society which is more and more unequal and undemocratic. In this system the odds are massively against the poor and the oppressed. Instead of using the courts as a platform, as socialists have done, to speak to the wider public and defend political ideas and actions, the Youngspiration pair appear crestfallen and disorientated, putting their last hopes in a legal miracle that is unlikely to happen.

Incredibly, Baggio Leung Chung-hang said the judgement would cause many who advocated self-determination to “rethink” their plans – as if any of this was unexpected!

Court costs for the Youngspiration duo will run to millions of dollars and the judge ordered them to pay 80 percent of the government’s costs. Their legal team made no attempt to politicise the trial and spell out what is really happening – a political witch-hunt by an authoritarian regime.