【明報專訊】YESTERDAY chaos reigned in the legislative chamber as expected because of the oath-taking trouble. Legislative Council (Legco) president Andrew Leung adjourned the meeting on the grounds that it was impossible to chair it. Such is the nature of the trouble that has arisen from the way Sixtus Leung and Yau Wai-ching swore that controversy will persist even if the verdict on the judicial review (JR) case which the administration has filed and of which the hearing is to begin next Thursday will soon be handed down because what is at stake is two Legco seats. The legislative chamber being the place where the struggle takes place, Legco business will inevitably be held up.
It was not yesterday that legislators' oath-taking ways began to cause controversy. Certain members of the past three Legcos put on shows or declared their politics when they were sworn in. On each of those occasions, the Legco president accepted the particular legislator's oath. No trouble arose because the SAR government and Beijing tolerated them. What has just happened is different from what happened then mainly because Sixtus Leung and Yau Wai-ching have challenged "one country" with the intention of separating Hong Kong from China.
None of the oaths members of the three previous Legcos swore departed from "one country, two systems" in form or substance, though they had perhaps additions or omissions. Slogans critical of the situation in China actually evidenced their yellers' links to China. Even the one regarded as "the craziest of all" did not overtly or covertly express anything separatist when he gave his oath. The authorities therefore took no exception. A possible interpretation is that they tolerated what those legislators did, regarding it as consequent on the differences between the "two systems". Now those in the pro-establishment camp take the view that it is against the principle of solemnity for legislators to put on shows when they are sworn in. They think that shows they do not respect their oaths and will not abide by them, what is wrong is regarded by some as right because legislators were allowed to do so and that is why efforts to put things to rights have led to much trouble. This view certainly has to do with the arguments the parties to the JR case in question will put forward at the hearing. We can only wait for the court's ruling. What is most important from the political perspective is that one should never cross the red line Beijing has drawn.
The things Sixtus Leung and Yau Wai-ching said and the banners they displayed when they gave their oaths are clearly indicative of gangdu (Hong Kong's independence or Hong Kong separatism). Their body language showed they held the swearing-in ceremony in contempt. It is absurd and totally outrageous for them to have insulted China, our country, with "chee-na" and English swear words. The government's attempt to deal with the trouble with litigation will have a profound impact. If the judiciary is unable to deal with gangdu, the possibility of Beijing taking the matter in hand must not be ruled out. The swearing-in trouble has stripped "one country, two systems" of ambiguity and faced Beijing with gangdu. As a litigant either wins or loses, the case will be a zero-sum game of wrestling. Hong Kong is now in a very unfavourable position because it is open to Beijing to deal with the situation by having Basic Law articles "interpreted". When it is hoped that the authorities will impose as few restrictions as possible and tolerate as much as possible, it is not right to corner them. It is again clear from the trouble that problems will arise unless people recognise the limitations of "one country, two systems" and properly conduct themselves. A big problem has now arisen.