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After triggering a controversial intervention from Beijing over their oath-taking antics and advocacy of independence, the pair of lawmakers booted out of office now face the prospect of bankruptcy proceedings.
Yau Wai-ching and Sixtus Baggio Leung Chung-hang were supposed to return a total of HK$1.86 million worth of salaries and expenses that the Legislative Council claimed they owed, but the pair failed to do so by Monday’s deadline.
Instead, they asked their creditor for more time while they planned to mount a final appeal against earlier court decisions to disqualify them.
The Youngspiration pair – who insulted China and pledged allegiance to a “Hong Kong nation” during their oaths – are hoping that the Court of Final Appeal will come to their defence, thereby writing off debts that they insisted were unreasonable and politically motivated.
“The judicial process of the cases remains ongoing,” Leung wrote in a letter to Legco. “The council should wait until an ultimate decision from the Court of Final Appeal to decide whether it is necessary to collect the sums.”
But Starry Lee Wai-king, chairwoman of the Democratic Alliance for the Betterment and Progress of Hong Kong, the biggest pro-Beijing party, said Legco could consider bankruptcy petitions against Leung and Yau.
“We would seek legal advice after receiving their reply and consider appropriate legal actions, including civil claims and bankruptcy petitions,” Lee, the Legco commission’s vice-chairwoman, said.
The pair have hinted they would file the legal papers to the top court by next Wednesday.
Lawyers said that Legco would not enjoy priority repayment in case of a successful bankruptcy petition as it would be considered an ordinary, not preferential, creditor.
Apart from the pair’s planned appeal, they also argued Legco’s calculations of their debts were unreasonable.
They were paid HK$834,393 each in advance for operating costs, entertainment and travel expenses, and IT and set-up costs following their election success in September. Combined with their monthly salary of HK$95,180, payable since October 1, they received HK$929,573 each.
Legco demanded repayment dating from October 1. But the pair argued that any payment before the court disqualified them on October 12 should not become part of the claim. They also face a bill for legal fees and costs.
Legco president Andrew Leung Kwan-yuen said Leung had spent some of the money on five iPhones and 11 computers, while Yau had not presented any receipts as yet. The president added that the pair had also failed to return their office keys and Legco passes.
“Every room key is prepared in Germany and costs several hundred [Hong Kong] dollars,” he told reporters at a media lunch.
Legco’s decision to penalise the pair was based on the National People’s Congress Standing Committee’s interpretation of the Basic Law on November 7, which stated that “no corresponding entitlements shall be enjoyed by anyone who fails to lawfully and validly take their oath”.