Legco extends oath demand to district councillors - RTHK
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Legco extends oath demand to district councillors

2021-05-12 HKT 17:58
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  • More than 20 district councillors have resigned in recent months, some because they are not willing to take the oath. Image: Shutterstock
    More than 20 district councillors have resigned in recent months, some because they are not willing to take the oath. Image: Shutterstock
The Legislative Council has approved a bill adding district councillors to a growing list of Hongkongers obliged to swear allegiance to the government.

Any councillors that refuse to make the pledge in the coming weeks, as well as those found to be "unpatriotic", will be stripped of their seats.

Executive councillors and lawmakers were already required to take an oath of allegiance, and since the mass anti-government protests of 2019, civil servants have also been ordered to pledge their loyalty if they want to keep their jobs.

The government's bill extends this requirement to members of district councils, which have been overwhelmingly pro-democracy since the elections of November 2019.

The bill also introduces a mechanism to disqualify any undesirables from public office, even if they have pledged their allegiance.

Multiple ways somebody could breach their oath are set out, including by refusing to recognise China's sovereignty over Hong Kong, supporting independence, seeking foreign interference, "insulting" a flag, as well as "endangering national security".

The secretary for justice will be able to initiate legal proceedings. Those accused will be immediately suspended from office until the courts make a decision.

Upon conviction, people will be formally ousted from their positions and barred from standing for election for five years.

Anyone refusing to take an oath will also be banned from running for office again for five years.

More than 20 district councillors have resigned in recent months for a variety of reasons, some because they are behind bars accused of breaching the national security law, and others because they are not willing to take the oath.