HONG KONG • Hong Kong pro-democracy legislators threatened mass resignations yesterday, amid reports that Beijing plans to disqualify four opposition lawmakers who have been accused by the ruling camp of filibustering in the legislature.
Earlier yesterday, local news site HK01 reported, citing unnamed sources, that Beijing might make the move later this week in the latest squeeze on opposition politicians in the former British colony.
The four have been accused by pro-Beijing politicians of filibustering to obstruct legislation. Some pro-Beijing lawmakers said that it may be contrary to the oath of office.
The report did not detail a specific incident or incidents of alleged attempt to obstruct legislation, nor say what legal mechanism Beijing would use to disqualify them.
“We would like to use the mass resignation, on the one hand, to reflect our unity and, on the other hand, to reflect the tyranny of the central government and the HKSAR,” said Mr Wu Chi Wai, chairman of the Democratic Party, using the city’s official name, the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region.
The pro-democracy camp has 19 seats in the 70-seat legislature.
The speculation comes a week after eight prominent opposition politicians were arrested in connection with a meeting in the Legislative Council in May that descended into chaos.
The four identified by HK01 as the ones being considered for disqualification – Mr Alvin Yeung, Mr Dennis Kwok, Mr Kwok Ka Ki and Mr Kenneth Leung – were not among those eight.
However, the four were among 12 candidates disqualified from running for an election for the city’s legislature, initially scheduled for September but postponed for a year, with the authorities citing coronavirus risks. The terms of all lawmakers were extended by a year.
The authorities in Hong Kong and Beijing have moved swiftly to crack down on dissent in the financial hub after anti-government protests last year plunged the city into its biggest crisis in decades.
Critics of the Hong Kong government have accused it of stifling freedoms in the city and slammed the postponement of the September election in which the pro-democracy opposition had hoped to make significant gains.
The election would have been the first since Beijing imposed a controversial national security law on the city on June 30.