Hong Kong pro-democracy lawmakers resign en masse to protest Beijing’s move to disqualify four council members.

Hong Kong’s pro-democracy lawmakers announced their collective resignation on Wednesday (Nov 11) in protest against the Hong Kong government’s decision to disqualify four pan-democratic lawmakers.

Hours before the 15 pan-democratic lawmakers held a press conference to announce their decision to resign, the Hong Kong government announced it would disqualify four lawmakers – Yeung Ngok-kiu, Kwok Wing-kang, Kwok Ka-kiu and Leung Kai-cheong – from the legislature.

The NPC directly intervened in the disqualification of four legislators.

One of the major factors that prompted the Hong Kong government to make the decision was an earlier decision by the Standing Committee of China’s National People’s Congress (NPC). At its meeting on Tuesday and Wednesday, the NPC Standing Committee passed a resolution that those legislators who support Hong Kong’s independence or refuse to recognize China’s sovereignty over Hong Kong, or who threaten national security, or who “seek interference in the affairs of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region by foreign or extra-territorial forces, or who engage in other acts that endanger national security” should be disqualified from running for office.

The NPC Standing Committee also specified that members of the sixth legislature whose nominations were ruled invalid and could not run in the seventh Legislative Council election due to the above-mentioned circumstances were suitable for the above decision.

The Legislative Yuan has become a “one-voice” legislature.

In a press conference on Wednesday, Democrat Party Chairman Jason Wu, convenor of the pro-democracy camp in the Legislative Council, said the pan-democratic lawmakers resigned today because the NPC had made a “very absurd” decision that undermined the Basic Law and “one country, two systems”. He said the 19 pro-democracy lawmakers would “stand together” and work together to advance and retreat. Wu announced that they would submit their resignations on Thursday.

In the past few months, the Legislative Council has become a “one-man show”, allowing the chief executive to exercise his powers if he feels the behavior of lawmakers or public officials does not meet the standards of a “patriot”, Wu said. This fundamentally undermines the separation of powers in Hong Kong and runs counter to the Basic Law.

However, Wu also said that although the pan-democrats have announced their resignation, they will still fight for democracy in their respective posts and resist Beijing’s authoritarian regime.

Carrie Lam: Legislative Council to become ‘patriot’ legislature

Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor also held a press conference on Wednesday. She said that those who join the legislature should become lawmakers who support the Basic Law and pledge allegiance to the SAR, so as to satisfy the “patriot-majority” political system.

Explaining the reasons for the disqualification of the four pan-democrats, Mrs Lam said they had applied to run for re-election before the Legislative Council general election held earlier, but were disqualified by the Returning Officer for not upholding the Basic Law, among other reasons. The election was later postponed for a year due to the epidemic, and the NPC Standing Committee passed a decision to allow the original legislators to extend their operation for another year, which is why the four lawmakers were able to extend their terms.

If all the pro-democracy lawmakers resign, only pro-establishment lawmakers will be left in the Hong Kong legislature, which will then be able to pass any bills favored by Beijing unimpeded. Carrie Lam said the Legco would welcome different views and would not become a rubber stamp.

The four disqualified pro-democracy activists said it was a dark day and proof that one country, two systems no longer existed.

Radio Television Hong Kong quoted University of Hong Kong Law School professor Chan Man-man as saying the NPC Standing Committee was acting lawlessly because under Article 79 of the Basic Law, a decision to disqualify a lawmaker needs to be approved by two-thirds of the Legislative Council.

Hong Kong courts pile up national security law cases

Observers noted that the joint disqualification of four pro-democracy lawmakers by the Hong Kong government and the National People’s Congress (NPC) was another severe blow to the pro-democracy movement in Hong Kong since Beijing imposed a national security law on the city. At one point, the Hong Kong government had previously arrested key figures in the pro-democracy protests, including Huang Zhifeng and Zhou Ting, and raided the headquarters of Hong Kong’s free media Apple Daily to arrest media tycoon Lai Chi-ying.

The four main charges against Hong Kong’s pro-democracy forces – secession, subversion of the regime, terrorism and collusion with outside forces – created by Hong Kong’s national security France, which came into effect at the end of June this year, give the Hong Kong authorities a convenient excuse to deprive Hong Kong people of their right to freedom. Any rally, march or criticism of the Hong Kong government or Beijing can be considered a violation of national security laws and punished severely.

According to Hong Kong media reports, more than 10,000 people have been arrested for participating in the protests. Hong Kong courts are currently filled with cases awaiting trial, many of them related to opposition lawmakers and prominent activists.

The promulgation and implementation of the National Security Law has continued to draw strong condemnation from the international community, which sees Beijing as reneging on its international commitments made before Hong Kong’s handover and completely undermining Hong Kong’s “one country, two systems”.