Seven district councillors unseated over invalid oaths

Top News | Michael Shum 16 Sep 2021

Seven opposition district councillors from Hong Kong Island have been unseated after authorities doubted their oaths to uphold the Basic Law and bear allegiance to the SAR.

The seven were disqualified as a result of their participation in the pan-democrats' primary elections in July last year, sources said, although the government did not cite a reason for their disqualification.

Disqualified were Wan Chai district council chairwoman Clarisse Yeung Suet-ying and Southern's Michael Pang Cheuk-kei, who are both out on bail after being charged with subversion under the national security law for their participation in the pan-democratic camp's primary elections.

The other five are Wan Chai's Leung Pak-kin and Eastern's Anna Lai Tsz-yan, Wei Siu-lik, Chan Wing-tai and So Yat-hang from the Democratic Party who allowed their offices to be used as polling stations for the primary elections.

In a statement from the Home Affairs Bureau yesterday, the government said it has determined that the oaths sworn by the seven on Friday were invalid after considering their written replies and all relevant information.

It added that the seven will be unseated according to the Public Offices (Candidacy and Taking Up Offices) amendment passed by lawmakers in May, which stipulates public officers should be unseated if they fail to swear a valid oath.

The seven, alongside 17 others from Hong Kong Island district councils, were the first batch of councillors to take the oath on Friday before Secretary for Home Affairs Caspar Tsui Ying-wai.

Separately, Secretary for Constitutional and Mainland Affairs Erick Tsang Kwok-wai told lawmakers that setting up polling stations at border points is being considered for the Legislative Council election on December 19.

This will allow Hongkongers in the mainland to vote without crossing the border to avoid quarantine, he added.

"We are hoping to see if we can arrange for people returning to the mainland after voting to be exempt from quarantine," Tsang said.

But he added that the government will not set up polling stations until legal and technical issues are resolved. It was in response to Democratic Alliance for the Betterment and Progress of Hong Kong lawmaker Gary Chan Hak-kan proposing that Hongkongers be allowed to vote at the eight Hong Kong Economic and Trade Offices in the mainland.

Elizabeth Quat Pui-fan, also of the DAB, said setting up polling stations at border crossings is more technically feasible than allowing Hongkongers to vote in the mainland.

"With the electronic poll system in place for issuing ballot papers to voters, the voting arrangement for electorates to cast their votes at border crossings can be identical to the arrangement of other polling stations in Hong Kong," Quat said.

Tsang said there is also a plan to set up a polling station at the isolation camp in Penny's Bay and allow voters under compulsory quarantine to temporarily leave their room to cast their votes.

DAB chair Starry Lee Wai-king expressed worries that the historic low turnout in Macau's Legislative Assembly elections on Sunday can also happen in Hong Kong.

In response, Tsang said the government has noted Macau's situation, but "it is too early to say whether a similar situation will [happen] in Hong Kong."

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