Beijing, Sep 7 (EFE).- Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam announced Tuesday that the city’s district councilors will have to swear allegiance to the Basic Law (the city’s mini-Constitution) and the Special Administrative Region, or risk losing office.
According to Lam, in the current legislature there were 479 district councilors, but 260 have resigned, and another eight have been disqualified after their arrest or leaving the territory.
The remaining 211 councilors, still in office, will receive what Hong Kong radio broadcaster RTHK called “invitations” to attend a Friday allegiance ceremony.
After the ceremony, Lam said “we will not immediately announce whether the oath is valid or not. But for those councilors who are sworn in, they will be notified later that they will continue to serve as district councilors.”
“For some, if we have doubts or do not fully believe their oath of allegiance, they will be given an opportunity to explain themselves. The witness will judge him and, if necessary, the witness can request legal assistance to support his final decision,” she added.
This ceremony comes after Beijing gave the green light in March, to a new legislation that will limit, according to multiple sectors, the already limited options of the Hong Kong pro-democratic opposition to seize power in a limited suffrage system.
On May 21, the Hong Kong government reported the “swearing-in requirement for members of the District Councils.”
According to the text then published by the local Executive, the regulation “ensures that elected officials understand their constitutional responsibilities, and guarantees that only a person who meets the fundamental requirement of ‘defending the Basic Law and swearing loyalty to Hong Kong’ can occupy a public office.”
This mechanism is stipulated in Article 6 of the controversial National Security Law for Hong Kong that Beijing drafted and imposed last year, as a result of the anti-government mobilizations that took to the streets of the former British colony during the second half of 2019.
This law stipulates penalties of up to life imprisonment for cases of secession, terrorism or conspiracy with foreign forces, among others. EFE