Hong Kong's pro-democracy movement has been dealt another heavy blow after four lawmakers were stripped of their seats on the city's top legislative body for not showing their oath of office (and Beijing) the proper amount of "respect".
Party chairman, Wu Chi-wai, said the rights of lawmakers to express their views in Legco could be restricted, if rules on filibustering are tightened now that pan-democratic lawmakers have lost their veto power.
Twenty years is not enough for the Hong Kong people to adjust to China's "one country, two systems" administration or principle, or to have confidence and trust in it (Beijing needs to listen to and engage HK's radicals; July 8).
Prominent opposition figure "Long Hair" Leung Kwok-hung, who was sworn in last October, is among the lawmakers ordered removed by the Court of First Instance for modifying the oath of office.
None of the four involved in Friday's rulings advocated independence from China.
Hong Kong is an autonomous territory of China that has its own Constitution called the Basis Law of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region.
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A group of young political activists chaffing against what they see as undue Beijing interference, won seats in an assembly election previous year, and some made gestures of defiance at their swearing-in, which authorities have said ruled them out.
In issuing Friday's verdict, judge Au, who disqualified the two pro-independence lawmakers in November, said concern about political pressure behind the verdict was "at best speculative and the conclusions are illogical". Even before the decision, all four said they would appeal any rulings that went against them, the South China Morning Post reported.
Leung Kwok-hung brought a yellow umbrella on stage to recite his oath and tore up a copy of the "831 ruling", a controversial Beijing white paper which provides the framework for how the city's chief executive should be elected.
"Political suppression is not the scariest". China promised Hong Kong autonomy from the mainland, but there are signs of increased involvement by Beijing in Hong Kong affairs.
"It is used to excise some elected pro-democracy activists from the legislature, to rig the system further in favor of pro-Beijing politicians", she said in an email. Now with 24 seats - one held by a centrist lawmaker - and with four more of them facing legal battles - the opposition risks losing its veto power.