Dozens of pro-democracy district councilors resigned on Thursday as media reported that councilors deemed to have committed “unpatriotic” acts would be removed from their posts – even if they take a new oath of loyalty.
The dramatic rise in resignations came as new obligatory government oaths of allegiance for all district councilors are expected to be introduced later this month.
The councils are the last stronghold of the Democratic camp after Democrats quit the upper-level Legislative Council to protest the disqualification of four of their colleagues. A Beijing-ordered political overhaul will further erode Democrat influence, critics say.
Reports suggest disqualified district councilors may be forced to reimburse their salaries and allowances to the government.
The grounds for disqualification would include having participated in an unofficial primary election for the Democratic camp last July, having signed an online petition last year calling for Hong Kong to lose its special trade status, and display the protest slogan “Free Hong Kong, Revolution of Our Time” in offices.
Councilors who stepped down posted heartfelt farewell messages to their constituents on social media.
Owan Li from Tai Kok Tsui District announced his resignation on his Facebook page. “I want to be the kind of person who through hard work makes the world a better place,” he wrote. He said he would hand out face masks and hand sanitizer on Friday night to say goodbye to his constituents.
“Ten thousand apologies – I can’t complete my entire term, sorry I can’t serve all of you as a district councilor. In this system that collapsed, I never hoped I could make a change, ”Tin Shui Wai’s Lam Chun wrote on Facebook.
He also quoted from the movie Spiderman: “If you’re nothing without the costume then you shouldn’t have it.
The adviser had previously told HKFP that he intended to take the required oath of allegiance.
The Hong Kong Association for Democracy and People’s Livelihoods, whose members also intend to take the oath, announced that its 19 district councilors would no longer take the oath, citing “drastic changes” in the oath. political climate.
Kalvin Ho of Shum Shui Po, who was released on bail but faces national security charges along with 46 other Democrats, also tendered his resignation on Thursday, his aide told HKFP.
The Home Office declined to confirm the number of resignations it had received in the past 24 hours, saying it would advertise the vacant district councilor positions in the official gazette within 21 days.
‘Keep the Faith’
Many resigning councilors thanked their constituents and voters. “Even though the initial path is extremely difficult, I know that all true Hong Kong people can still keep the faith!” Clara Cheung of Happy Valley wrote to her constituents.
Other advisers who announced their resignation on Thursday include Sha Tin’s Tsang So-lai, Sham Shui Po’s Joshua Li, Wan Chai’s Gary Li, Tai Po’s Kwan Wing-yip and Yam Kai-bong, Chan Wai-tai of northern district and Edward Ho from Tuen Mun.
At least 30 had resigned Thursday night in the latest round of resignations.
Dozens of pro-democracy advisers had already resigned following the imposition of the national security law a year ago and the announcement of the new obligation to take the oath.
Officials said the oath legislation would not be retroactive, but authorities will take into account the past conduct of district councilors when considering whether their oath of allegiance is sincere.