Several legislative amendments proposed by the government of Hong Kong on Tuesday would require district councilors to swear allegiance to the special administrative region of the People's Republic of China and face disqualification and a five-year ban on running for office if they are found to have violated their oath.
Unveiling the bill at a news conference, Secretary for Constitutional and Mainland Affairs Erick Tsang Kwok-wai said those who refuse to take the oath, take an invalid oath or were previously ruled as not upholding the Basic Law and being loyal to the HKSAR, will also be disqualified.
Under the proposed changes, four councilors will theoretically be disqualified once the bill is passed, Tsang said.
Last July, district councilors Leung Fong-wai, Lester Shum Ngo-fai, Tiffany Yuen Ka-wai, Cheng Tat-hung were ruled by returning officers to be ineligible to run for the already-postponed legislative election on the grounds that they failed to meet the standard given their past radical behavior.
The proposed amendments lay out actions that will be ruled as oath violations, such as endangering national security, advocating Hong Kong independence and seeking foreign interference in Hong Kong affairs.
Indiscriminately boycotting government-proposed bills, organizing unofficial polls to confront the central and the SAR governments, and desecrating national symbols also fall into this category.
It also proposes to add concrete requirements for taking the oath, such as it must be taken sincerely and solemnly and must be read out accurately and completely. Violations will be ruled as making invalid oaths and there won't be a second chance to take the oath.
Tsang added that the arrangement is made to implement the requirement of the Basic Law and the National Security Law for Hong Kong and will help ensure the city is governed by patriots.
The bill will be submitted to the Legislative Council on March 17.
Article 6 of the National Security Law states: "A resident of the Region who stands for election or assumes public office shall confirm in writing or take an oath to uphold the Basic Law of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region of the People's Republic of China and swear allegiance to the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region of the People's Republic of China in accordance with the law."
After the law's promulgation in Hong Kong on June 30 last year, the SAR government ordered all of its 180,000 civil servants to follow the requirement via signing statements or taking verbal oaths.