Democratic Party chairman Lo Kin-hei has called on the government to clarify the requirements for meeting the loyalty pledge, after one of the party’s councillors was disqualified for failing to make a valid oath of office.
The party’s So Yat-hang was among seven Hong Kong Island councillors unseated after authorities decided their pledge of allegiance was invalid.
Lo said on an RTHK programme on Thursday that he suspected So was ousted because of his involvement in the Legco primaries held in July last year.
Lo questioned the legal basis for the government to disqualify the seven councillors, noting they had already declared their loyalty to the SAR and the Basic Law when they signed up for the district council elections in 2019.
"At that point of time, some of the government officials confirmed their nominations. Nowadays when a new law is passed, there is a retrospective effect that they can disqualify those who actually took an oath, made a plea or signed a declaration earlier on. That is something which is quite strange to me."
"The government has the obligation to tell the public how this 'patriots rulling Hong Kong' [requirement] is going to work," he said.
"Let's be clear, what's the standard? What are the standards the government is now holding?" he asked.
“The red line may be like this today, but tomorrow will there be a new line? Will it include something else or exclude some other things? Nothing can be clearly defined,” he said.
He also said the disqualifications will not affect the Democratic Party's mission to continue to serve the public, noting that there are district councillors from his party who passed the screening.
"We always think we have our own ways to continue our work in district level, in community level. Whether or not we are district councillors, that is not going to change," he said.
Lo also urged the government to hold by-elections to fill more than 200 vacant seats in the district council, saying it is the government's responsibility to make sure people have their representatives in the council.