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Tuesday, Jul 27, 2021

Hong Kong crafting "patriotic" oath for district councilors

Hong Kong crafting "patriotic" oath for district councilors

Hong Kong’s government will gazette a bill later this week that will require district councilors to pledge an oath of allegiance to Hong Kong and its mini-constitution, further stifling democratic opposition.
Secretary for Mainland and Constitutional Affairs Eric Tsang Kwok-wai said politicians deemed insincere would be blocked from office, releasing details of the bill a day after a senior official in China’s cabinet said provisions should be made to ensure “patriots” were running Hong Kong.

“The law will fulfill the constitutional responsibility of the government,” Tsang said.

“You cannot say that you are patriotic but you do not love the leadership of the Chinese Communist Party or you do not respect it - this does not make sense,” Tsang added. “Patriotism is holistic love.”

Any district councilor suspended from office after failing the loyalty test would be sent to court for formal disqualification, and banned from contesting elections for five years.

The bill potentially paves the way for the mass disqualification of pro-democracy politicians who took almost ninety percent of 452 district council seats in Hong Kong in the 2019 elections, humiliating the pro-Beijing camp.

While district councils decide little beyond community-level issues, such as garbage collection and bus stops, Beijing and Hong Kong authorities are determined that all public institutions in the city must be run by people loyal to Beijing.

With the latest announcement made by government officials, four serving district councilors will almost certainly lose their seats under the government's latest plan.

The four are Lester Shum Ngo-fai, Tiffany Yuen Ka-wai, Fergus Leung Fong-wai and Tat Cheng Tat-hung.

The constitutional affairs chief said today that if the law changes are passed, four current district councilors who were disqualified by returning officers last year when they registered to run in the abandoned Legislative Council elections will lose their district council seats.

“The returning officers at the time have already concluded that the four do not genuinely uphold the Basic Law. So theoretically speaking, they won’t be qualified to stay on as district councilors,” he said.

In view of the latest move, Shum accused the government of crushing dissent and said he will continue to serve in Tsuen Wan District Council until the very last moment.

While Tat Cheng, thanked his supporters, saying he will lose his Eastern District seat the very moment the law is passed.
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