Lam pledges not to go after Chu seat for now

Top News | Cindy Wan 5 Dec 2018

There are no plans for the government to target lawmaker Eddie Chu Hoi-dick's seat in the Legislative Council, says Chief Executive Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor.

She said the government supported a returning officer's decision to disqualify Chu from a village election next year, but for now it has no plan to do anything that would change his lawmaker status.

Her remarks was made before the Executive Council yesterday in response to a question of whether Chu is still qualified to be a lawmaker, given that the returning officer provided information regarding his controversial view on independence.

"We do not have any plan to act on changing the status of an incumbent lawmaker," Lam said.

Asked if the government will amend the law to clarify what are the "red lines" for election candidates, Lam said it will have an internal discussion to see whether there are gray areas in local legislation, law interpretation and court verdicts to clarify.

One of Chu's argument against the disqualification is that it is not necessary for a rural representative candidate to swear to uphold the Basic Law and the SAR, according to Basic Law Article 104.

And so, Chu added, it is disputable whether the disqualification against him is lawful.

In response, Lam said the returning officer followed Section 24 of the Rural Representative Election Ordinance, which requires candidates to declare their allegiance to the SAR and state they will uphold the Basic Law.

Lam said the required declaration is no different from the requirements listed in the Legislative Council Ordinance for lawmakers and that the government will enforce the rural election ordinance in the same manner it enforces the Legco Ordinance.

"And according to previous court judgments, upholding the Basic Law and the SAR is a substantive requirement. Therefore, we also followed the same standard to handle the issue this time," she said.

Rebutting Lam's remarks, Chu said the verdict she mentioned was about the qualification for the Legislative Council election, not the rural representative election, which has different legislative intents.

And so the returning officer has no right to question his political stance, Chu said.

While some pro-Beijing lawmakers are seeking ways to strip Chu of his Legco seat, establishment legislator Michael Tien Puk-sun disagreed as he feared such action would give a bad impression to people.

While it will take more than two-thirds of the whole council to pass a motion to impeach Chu, the fact is the establishment camp does not have enough votes to pass an impeachment motion now, he said.

cindymt.wan@singtaonewscorp.com

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