Councillors warned: no shorts, slogans or drama

More than 200 district councillors will take their oath of allegiance in four batches, with those from Hong Kong Island the first.

Those who refuse to attend the ceremony on Friday will be unseated, Chief Executive Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor said yesterday.

Secretary for Home Affairs Caspar Tsui Ying-wai will monitor the oath-taking in the North Point Community Hall.

“District councillors will have to state whether they will attend the oath-taking and those who refuse to attend will be unseated,” Lam said.

She said authorities will notify the district councillors of the validity of their oath-taking after the ceremony.

“If authorities are not satisfied with the oath taken by certain district councillors, they will be given chances to explain. The oath administrator will then determine whether the oath-taking is valid or not.”

As 268 out of a total of 479 councillors in the 18 district councils have resigned or been unseated, 211 are required to take the oath. Lam said: “Taking the oath is legally binding. So oath takers who make a false oath or after taking the oath engage in conduct in breach of the oath shall bear legal responsibility.”

It has been reported that councillors will have to repay the government as much as HK$1 million – as part of their salary and expenses – when disqualified after taking the oath. This has prompted more than 70 councillors to resign.

Tsui said: “Usually, the Home Affairs Department will stop paying salaries to councillors on the day they are disqualified and expenses that are unrelated to the work within the district councils will also not be repaid.

“In simpler words, if one has done nothing wrong, one need not panic at the knock on the door in the middle of the night.

“If anyone is found breaching the law, we will refer the case to the law enforcers.”

In the invitations sent to district councillors yesterday, the government listed the procedures as well as requirements for the ceremony.

Councillors must wear business attire, which means no tank tops, no shorts, no jeans and no clothing with holes, while displaying political banners or shouting slogans are not allowed.

Bringing loudspeakers, respirators, helmets, flags and banners to the venue is not allowed.

As councillors who refuse to take the oath will be ousted, Democratic Party chairman Lo Kin-hei emphasized that the party respects whatever decision its councillors take.

Lo added he could not predict how many Democratic Party district councillors will take the oath and qualify.

Starry Lee Wai-king, chair of the pro-Beijing Democratic Alliance for the Betterment and Progress of Hong Kong, said her party supports the arrangement, adding that all district councillors should fulfill the requirements stated in the oath and be consistent in action and words.

The government said Wan Chai District Council chair Clarisse Yeung Suet-ying and Southern District councillor Michael Pang Cheuk-kei, both out on bail in a primary election case, were also invited to take the oath, but both refused to comment.

The vice chairman of the Southern District Council, Paul Zimmerman, said he will take the oath.

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