Yuen Long councilor becomes first democrat to quit after rejecting loyalty oath

Published (HKT): 2021.04.07 21:50

A district councilor of Yuen Long has become the first pro-democracy local officeholder to resign, following his refusal to take an oath of allegiance to Hong Kong.

The resignation of To Ka-lun, 62, would be effective at the end of the month, cutting short his second term in office, he said on his Facebook page early on Wednesday.

To, who had served Hongkongers since 2015, thanked supporters of his election campaigns. He said the public had hoped that after the democracy camp’s landslide victory in 2019, the government would listen to their opinions, but the reality was the opposite.

The government oppressed democracy advocates including scholars, politicians, journalists, lawyers and young people by arresting and jailing them, with many remanded in custody before trial, To wrote. Rule of law in Hong Kong was dead and justice had not been served, while the district councils and the legislature could barely do anything, he added.

The government made it compulsory for those in office to swear an oath of loyalty but gave vague provisions that allowed abuse of the system by suing district councilors and threatening them with imprisonment, To said. Without taking the oath, he would lose his seat and betray the public’s expectations of him, but if he did, he would live in fear of arrest, he explained.

He hoped supporters would understand his difficult choice, and said that even as he was no longer a district councilor, he would forever be a Hongkonger, an identity that the regime could never strip him of, the Facebook post showed.

To embarked on his first term in public office in 2015, when he won a seat in Fairview Park constituency as a member of the Hong Kong Christian Fellowship of Social Concern with 1,826 votes. At the time, his victory ended the 30-year tenure of election opponent Yau Tai-tai of the pro-Beijing New Territories Association of Societies, who received 1,596 votes.

He secured reelection in 2019 with 4,329 votes, more than the 3,211 secured by the main pro-Beijing candidate, Arthur Cheung of the Business and Professional Alliance.

Last month, Tuen Mun district councilor Lee Ka-wai announced his decision not to take the oath, as he would not trade his right to freedom of speech for his seat. Two former lawmakers, Lam Cheuk-ting and Gary Fan, resigned as district councilors after they were taken into custody on subversion charges.

Heng Fa Chuen district councilor Christine Wong resigned last Wednesday, citing health reasons.

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