Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam announced the immediate disqualification of four pro-democracy lawmakers-on Wednesday – Kwok Ka-ki, Alvin Yeung, Kenneth Leung and Dennis Kwok. Lam said they were in violation of their duties as legislators and oaths of loyalty to the HKSAR government under Article 104 of the Basic Law.
The move followed a resolution passed by Beijing during China’s top legislative meeting this week which granted the local government power to unseat lawmakers deemed to be violating the Basic Law without consulting the city’s courts. The four had been disqualified in July from running for the now-postponed Legislative Council elections.
Later on Wednesday, members of the Hong Kong democratic camp announced they will all collectively resign to stand with their four disqualified colleagues.
HKFP rounds up international and local reactions.
Dennis Kwok, ousted lawmaker
“I have said that…if observing due process and protecting systems… and fighting for democracy and human rights would lead to the consequences of being disqualified, it would be my honour. I say the same today…it’s been my honour to serve.”
Alvin Yeung, ousted lawmaker
“The road ahead will be bumpy, difficult and challenging… but I am in full faith of Hong Kong and all Hongkongers for simple reason because we know we have thousands of… Hongkongers of all age… who are willing to sacrifice and contribute to Hong Kong.”
Kwok Ka-ki, ousted lawmaker
“Hongkongers have time and time again been deprived of their right to universal suffrage as promised under the Basic Law… Today, they have destroyed One Country Two Systems…those who made this decision…will need to answer to history and the Hong Kong people. From today onwards, this legislature will no longer be a fair one.”
Kenneth Leung, ousted lawmaker
“This is a sad day, but also a glorious day for us all. Now we are stepping down, however, there are many more Hong Kong people, with aspirations, with drive, with hope, with values, who can succeed us. I’m sure they will continue to fight for the core values of Hong Kong.”
Andrew Leung, President of the Legislative Council (LegCo)
“I understand and respect the decision. In accordance with the decision, the government declared that four members of the 6th Legco are no longer qualified for the office and their seats have been vacated since July 30 this year…
In the midst of severe economic hardship and the lingering Covid-19 epidemic in Hong Kong… I call on members across all political spectrum to adopt a pragmatic approach in striving for the best interests of the community and resolve the prevailing challenges.”
Wu Chi-wai, Chairman of the Democratic Party
“Democrats are facing a whole new set of circumstances. In view of our colleagues who were ousted today, all democrats decide to stand with them and resign en masse. The move will not frustrate us, as we know democracy will not be achieved overnight. The road to democracy is especially long when confronting an authoritarian regime. But we will not be defeated by pressure and oppression. We will find a new way.”
Martin Liao, convenor of pro-establishment camp
“Like many opposition camps in other legislatures, they are democratically elected representatives who stand for non-pro-establishment voices. Regrettably, their words and actions in recent years have long exceeded their role as the opposition to speak up for the people and monitor the governance…[They] turned into the mutual destruction camp, failing to live up to expectations of voters and society as a whole.”
Starry Lee, Chairwoman of LegCo House Committee
“This resolution is beneficial to One Country, Two Systems, it is beneficial to safeguarding national security and the country’s sovereignty, maintaining Hong Kong’s long-term prosperity and allowing LegCo to better perform our constitutional role under the Basic Law.”
Maria Tam, vice-chairwoman of the Basic Law Committee
“Those who [want to] file an electoral petition can still do so, those who [want to] get a judicial review can still do so. [The NPCSC] has not bypassed local courts in handling this matter. Whether the court will accept the application and whether the application will be successful… because of the NPCSC’s decision, it will be a bit difficult for them… but the decision has not bypassed Hong Kong’s existing legal protection for these people.”
Joshua Wong, pro-democracy activist
“This is a manifest declaration of Beijing to abandon the promises enshrined in the Joint Declaration… this time Beijing even horrendously bypassed Hong Kong’s judiciary and legislature when enforcing the order… The latest decision effectively bans disqualified candidates from running in upcoming elections, basically sweeping all prospective democratic candidates out of the door.”
Hong Kong Democracy Council (HKDC)
“Today, the NPCSC and Hong Kong Chief Executive handed down a death sentence to what remains of Hong Kong’s political system.
The Legislative Council, despite its flaws, is Hong Kong’s last defense embodying any elements of democracy and of the promise of ‘Hong Kongers governing Hong Kong.’ With today’s vote and the immediate disqualification of four opposition lawmakers, the CCP is telling the world that, not only do they fully control the chief executive and her administration, but they are now extending that absolute control over the legislature. There will be zero tolerance for opposition voices in this version of Hong Kong…
By banning legal and legitimate legislative maneuvers and tactics such as filibustering and quorum calls, the CCP strips away the very last shred of legitimacy of Hong Kong’s political system – leaving no doubt that LegCo will only exist as a ‘rubber stamp’ moving forward.”
Yamini Mishra, Amnesty International’s Asia-Pacific Regional Director
“Today’s disqualification of four pro-democracy Hong Kong politicians… is yet another example of the Chinese central government’s campaign to silence dissent in the city by any means… Once again, Hong Kong has allowed its laws and its legislature to be bypassed as Beijing makes up the rules as it goes along.
Bulldozing through arbitrary decisions via the Chinese government makes a mockery of the rule of law. This is a politically motivated attempt to legitimize repression of opposition legislators. Ultimately, it is a move that intensifies the chilling effect on the freedoms of expression, association and participation in the political process in Hong Kong.”
Lord Chris Patten, former Governor of Hong Kong
“This is yet another example of the Chinese Communist Party trampling on what is left of democracy in Hong Kong. Once again, Xi Jinping’s regime has demonstrated its total hostility to democratic accountability, and those who wish to stand up for it.”
Benedict Rogers, Chief Executive of Hong Kong Watch
“This is a dark day for Hong Kong’s democracy. The move by Beijing to disqualify four pro-democracy lawmakers and the passing of a resolution that would purge pro-democracy voices from the Legislative Council is in direct contradiction to the One Country, Two Systems model. It will turn Hong Kong’s legislature into little more than a rubber stamp composed of pro-Beijing acolytes, entirely unrepresentative of the people of Hong Kong.
Carrie Lam says that she wants a body composed of patriots, but there is nothing patriotic about vandalising Hong Kong’s democracy, undermining the Basic Law, and betraying her responsibility to serve all of the people of Hong Kong.
Beijing’s attempts to purge pro-democracy voices in Hong Kong will not stop at the doors of the Legislative Council chamber. Now that Hong Kong’s highest democratic body has been reduced to little more than a puppet-show, it will fix its sights on the judiciary. This will have significant ramifications for the rule of law and the city’s status as a common-law jurisdiction.”
Luke de Pulford, UK-based rights activist
“Absolutely disgraceful. @DominicRaab must set out today the UK’s plan for holding China accountable for breaking their treaty promises to Hong Kong.”
Sir Malcolm Rifkind, former UK Foreign Secretary
“Xi Jinping has now signed the death warrant for ‘two systems in One Country’ which was the vision of his predecessor Deng Xiaoping. We salute the courage of the pro-democracy legislators who have resigned in protest. They are the giants. The Chinese government appears small.”