The imminent resignations of five legislators are not a part of a campaign by the pro-democracy camp to seek independence for Hong Kong, legislator Audrey Eu Yuet-mee said yesterday.
Instead, she reiterated, they are an attempt to give the public a chance to take a stance on the issues of universal suffrage and of whether functional constituencies should be abolished.
Speaking as the spokeswoman for the "five district referendum movement" at a press conference, Eu said Tanya Chan and Alan Leong Kah-kit of the Civic Party and Raymond Wong Yuk-man, Leung Kwok-hung and Albert Chan Wai-yip of the League of Social Democrats will submit their resignations on Tuesday. The moves will become effective next Friday.
She refused to indicate whether the five would be standing in the by- elections, saying all of them want voters to support "real universal suffrage," not just individual candidates.
Eu rejected claims by the Hong Kong and Macao Affairs Office that the resignation scheme is a blatant challenge to the Basic Law and Beijing's authority.
"They [Beijing officials] never said which article or ordinance we will be violating," she said. "We have absolutely no worries about a judicial review on our move."
She urged the public to vote in as it is a "rare opportunity" to support real universal suffrage and call for functional constituencies to be abolished.
For their part, the five legislators said they are pleased to be involved in something "meaningful" and have started clearing their offices already.
Pro-Beijing stalwart Tsang Hin-chi said anyone trying to promote a referendum is "brainless" as Hong Kong is part of China.
This did not prevent Liberal Party chairwoman Miriam Lau Kin-yee from saying her party will be working closely with the Democratic Alliance for the Betterment and Progress of Hong Kong in fielding candidates in the by-elections.
Liberal core members, James Tien Pei-chun and his brother Michael Tien Puk-sun, have indicated their interest.
But DAB vice-chairman Ip Kwok- him said views are split in his party and that it would only join in the by-elections if they are not seen as a referendum.
Hong Kong Federation of Trade Unions said its vice-chairwoman Chan Yuen-han, a popular candidate for the Kowloon East constituency, is still undecided about running.
A spokesperson reiterated the government is obliged by the Basic Law to hold by-elections to fill vacant seats but that any kind of referendum has no legal basis.
Legislator Priscilla Leung Mei-fun has said she is considering moving a private bill to limit the reasons under which lawmakers can resign.