Public Offices (Candidacy and Taking Up Offices) (Miscellaneous Amendments) Bill 2021 (2021/05/12)

Public Offices (Candidacy and Taking Up Offices) (Miscellaneous Amendments) Bill 2021 (2021/05/12)

MR YIU SI-WING (in Cantonese): Deputy President, I speak in support of the passage of the Public Offices (Candidacy and Taking Up Offices) (Miscellaneous Amendments) Bill 2021 ("the Bill"). The content of the amendments of the Bill includes: clarification of the meaning of "uphold the Basic Law and bear allegiance to SAR" in legislation; requirement for members of the District Councils ("DCs") to take an oath when assuming office; arrangement for administration of public officers' oaths, and the legal consequences of declining or neglecting to take an oath and of breach of an oath. Despite the Government's clear announcement of the legislative amendment procedure, I can still hear voices of opposition describing the exercise as "a big regression in terms of politics in Hong Kong" and "the tightening of the red line by the Central Authorities". These remarks can be said to be groundless without regard to objective facts.


As shown by data, there are over 170 countries worldwide in which an oath-taking system has been stipulated in their constitutions. In many democratic countries in Europe, the United States, Asia and so on, not only state officials are required to take oath, but Members, judges and civil servants are also required to swear allegiance to the countries to which they belong before assuming office. This shows that this is a very normal requirement. Therefore, it is naturally and perfectly justified for the SAR Government to legislate to require public officers, Members of the Legislative Council and DC members to take an oath.


For the past nearly 24 years since the return of sovereignty, the Central Government has fully demonstrated its sincerity in upholding "one country, two systems" and "Hong Kong people administering Hong Kong", and giving adequate room for the operation of the SAR Government. All along, the Central Government has not taken any initiative to propose specific requirements on swearing allegiance. However, the tolerance of the Central Government has been exploited by the opposition camp. Some public officers and DC members or Members have showed no regard for the proper attitude to be adopted when taking an oath and the due responsibilities to be undertaken after taking the oath. For instance, the oath-taking incident of the Legislative Council in 2016 and the frivolous attitude adopted by Legislative Council Members from the opposition camp inside and outside the Chamber have deeply affected the values of some members of the public, especially young people, towards the rule of law, which has indirectly and directly given rise to the series of lawless chaos in society.


People from the opposition camp have not only ruined the rule of law in Hong Kong, but have also kept instilling in society, in collaboration with foreign forces, the ideas of "anti-China" and "resisting China" as well as extremely radical political ideologies. Many of them are public officers and Members. They instilled in society the so-called ideology of "achieving justice by violating the law", which has caused an incorrect value that resisting the Government is righteous. As time goes by, the reactionary ideology of the "mutual destruction camp" has come into being.


The "mutual destruction camp" aims at impeding the development of Hong Kong, challenging the political system of Hong Kong and seizing the governing power from the SAR Government. As the "black-clad violence" and "Hong Kong independence" acts arising from the amendment of the Fugitive Offenders Ordinance in the year before last have not been suppressed effectively, they have reached an alarming level. DCs of this term serve as a perfect negative example. The relationship between the current DCs and the Government has been under strain since their formation. In order to please their supporters, members from the opposition camp often propose many political issues which are extremely controversial and inconsistent with their role as members. During the meetings, they wantonly made things difficult for the District Officers and Police representatives attending the meetings in an attempt to arouse public concern and intensify social conflicts. These are all the consequences arising from not having a requirement for all public officers to swear allegiance.


Deputy President, in order to halt chaos and restore order in Hong Kong and implement the basic principle of "patriots administering Hong Kong" under "one country, two systems", it brooks no delay to rationalize the requirements for the Legislative Council, DCs and public officers, and set out the basic responsibilities of the public officers. As the expression of "uphold the Basic Law and bear allegiance to SAR" mentioned in Article 104 of the Basic Law in Hong Kong has not been clearly defined, the opposition camp and politicians have exploited the loopholes in the system over the years. They have used the legislature as a platform to disseminate illegal remarks on "self-determination over Hong Kong's independence", referendum, hatred against China and "achieving justice by violating the law", and even requested foreign governments to interfere with Hong Kong affairs and sanction principal officers in Hong Kong. A series of acts disregarding the interests of Hong Kong people have eroded the core values of Hong Kong. This legislative amendment exercise seeks precisely to deal with the problem at root by effectively restricting public officers, through taking an oath, from doing acts which infringe upon the bottom line of the fundamental interests of the country and the SAR Government.


On the other hand, regarding the current chaotic situation in DCs, under the requirements of the National Security Law, it is the basic responsibility of DC members to bear allegiance to HKSAR. Apart from introducing the oath-taking requirements for DC members, the Bill has also stipulated that under section 73 of the Legislative Council Ordinance and section 79 of the District Councils Ordinance, the Secretary for Justice may bring proceedings against a Legislative Council Member or a DC member on the grounds of breach of oath. The duties and functions of the Member/member will be suspended automatically at once until the proceedings come to an end. This can effectively maintain the normal operation of the Legislative Council and DCs, and prevent the recurrence of the chaotic situation.


Deputy President, in recent years, Hong Kong has been struggling in political turbulence. Its development has already lagged behind those of its peripheral cities. It is hoped that through the series of measures implemented by the Central Government and the SAR Government, Hong Kong will return to the normal track, and the public can live in peace and work happily.


Deputy President, I so submit.