Duty bound to nation as well as Hong Kong

The oath-taking ceremony for members of the seventh-term Legislative Council (LegCo) of China's Hong Kong Special Administrative Region  is held at the LegCo Complex in Hong Kong on Jan 3, 2022. (PHOTO / XINHUA)

The 90 members of the seventh-term Legislative Council of China's Hong Kong Special Administrative Region were sworn in on Monday.

There were a few differences to Monday's occasion that made it stand out from previous swearing-in ceremonies. It is the first time the lawmakers took the oath in front of the national emblem and the national flag, and their oaths were witnessed by HKSAR Chief Executive Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor as the oath administrator. Previously it was the general secretary of the LegCo that fulfilled this duty.

The playing of the national anthem and the displaying of the national flag and emblem served to reinforce the fact that the SAR is an inalienable part of China. While the principle of the administrative branch guiding the government was corroborated by the chief executive witnessing the LegCo members' oaths to determine all are valid and made in good faith.

It is fair to say that the new arrangements for the LegCo members to take their oaths of office further consolidate the "one country, two systems" framework and the principle of "only patriots administer Hong Kong", which are the foundation for the SAR's good governance.

Some might argue that these are just symbolic changes. But they underscore that taking the oath is legally binding. The oath-takers must sincerely believe in and strictly abide by the oath, which calls on them to swear to uphold the Basic Law and swear allegiance to the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region of the People's Republic of China. Any oath-taker who makes a false oath or who after taking the oath engages in conduct in breach of the oath will bear legal responsibility for their oath-breaking.

There was a time when some home-haters in the SAR made use of LegCo to play political games at the cost of public interests. Now, with the newly improved electoral system, only patriots can be members of LegCo. The new arrangements for their oath-taking will ensure that although they may differ in their views, the awareness of LegCo members that they serve Hong Kong people, the SAR and the nation will be consolidated.

The ceremonial trappings are a reminder that being a member of LegCo means there are duties to be honored, and it is not just taking power in hand.

The LegCo election is the second major election held after the improvement in electoral system in March. Together with the first one, namely the Election Committee election in September 2021, and the coming one for the chief executive in March, the improved electoral system will elect those best and most suitable to serve the Hong Kong people and ensure the SAR's long-term prosperity.