Hours after four Hong Kong pro-democracy lawmakers were expelled from the city’s legislature, 15 of their colleagues followed through on a pledge and resigned en masse Wednesday.
The dismissals of Alvin Yeung, Denis Kwok, Kwok Ka-ki and Kenneth Leung occurred immediately after a Chinese legislative committee ruled that Hong Kong’s government could disqualify any lawmaker, believed to be a threat to national security, without going through the courts.
The other 15 opposition lawmakers held hands as they gathered before reporters to announce their resignations. Wu Chi-Wai, the chairman of the Democratic Party, said the Hong Kong government’s decision to disqualify the four lawmakers spelled the end of the “one country, two systems” concept that guaranteed the financial hub’s self-autonomy under the pact that switched control of Hong Kong from Britain to China in 1997.
Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam defended the disqualification of the four lawmakers in a press conference. She said, “We cannot allow members of the Legislative Council who have been judged in accordance with the law to be unable to fulfill the requirements and prerequisites” to continue serving in the Council.
Wednesday’s dismissals and the subsequent mass resignations from the 70-seat legislature leave the body with only pro-Beijing lawmakers, but Lam dismissed the notion that the Council would be reduced to a rubber-stamp entity.
The disqualified lawmakers were also among 12 legislators barred from running in elections initially scheduled to be held in September. The government has postponed the vote for a year, citing the novel coronavirus pandemic.