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Oath-taking requirement bill gazetted

The Government today gazetted the legislation related to the amendments regarding the oath-taking requirements for public officers.   It noted that, apart from the five categories of public officers specified in Article 104 of the Basic Law, Article 6 of the National Security Law also stipulates that a resident of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region who stands for election or assumes public office shall confirm in writing or take an oath to uphold the Basic Law and swear allegiance to the Hong Kong SAR in accordance with the law.   The Standing Committee of the National People's Congress endorsed the interpretation of Article 104 of the Basic Law on November 7, 2016, which explains that oath-taking is the legal prerequisite and required procedure for public officers to assume office, and must comply with the legal requirements in respect of its form and content.   The interpretation also makes it clear that an oath taker who makes a false oath, or, who, after taking the oath, engages in conduct in breach of the oath, shall bear legal responsibility in accordance with the law, the Government explained.   To accurately implement such requirements so as to fulfil the constitutional obligation of the Hong Kong SAR, the Government will introduce the Public Offices (Candidacy & Taking Up Offices)(Miscellaneous Amendments) Bill 2021 to the Legislative Council for first reading and second reading on March 17.   The bill mainly comprises six key areas of amendments which seek to specify the legal requirements and conditions of upholding the Basic Law and bearing allegiance to the Hong Kong SAR, and introduce the oath-taking requirement for District Council members.   It will also specify concrete oath-taking requirements in the Oaths & Declarations Ordinance, including that an oath taker will be disqualified forthwith from assuming the public office if an invalid oath is taken.   Under the bill, the arrangement of the oath administrator will be enhanced by standardising the arrangement for the Chief Executive or a person authorised by the Chief Executive to administer the oaths for the Executive Council and LegCo members, judges and other judicial officers and DC members.   It will make amendments to specify that a person who has breached an oath or failed to fulfil the relevant legal requirements and conditions, will be disqualified from holding the office, and provide for the mechanism in case of such a breach or failure.   The bill will also introduce restrictions in Chief Executive, LegCo and DC elections such that people who have been disqualified from entering on an office for declining or neglecting to take an oath, breached an oath or failed to fulfil the legal requirements and conditions, would be disqualified from being nominated or elected in the relevant elections held within five years.   The Government said the bill is significant in upholding the constitutional order of the Hong Kong SAR, ensuring the city is governed by patriots, and is conducive to the progress of the “one country, two systems” principle.   It added that it will fully complement the work of LegCo in scrutinising the bill to strive for its early passage.
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