Those who stepped down in the past few days include veteran councillors Kam Nai-wai and Joseph Lai, as well as the acting leaders of the Association for Democracy and People’s Livelihood, Yeung Yuk and Howard Lee, who are often considered “moderates”.
The wave of resignations come amid rumours that the government would seek financial compensation from councillors who would be disqualified under new oath-taking laws, dating back to the day they assumed office at the start of last year.
Media reports cited government sources as saying that each councillor may have to pay back around HK$1 million.
At an online press conference, Lo apologised to voters for not being able to finish his four-year term, citing money as part of his concern, but he promised he’ll continue to serve the Southern district.
“I want to make it clear, I will keep serving the community, my commitment remains even though I’m no longer a district councillor. No matter in what role or in what way, I promise that my services to the residents won’t change,” Lo told reporters.
Lo also criticised officials for refusing to verify the media reports, saying it’s “unacceptable and unreasonable” the way the government has handled the oath-taking issue.
“The kind of uncertainty is a major constraint for me to carry out my community work….I don’t want to be threatened for a very long time,” he said.
“I don’t know when there would be other reasons to deal with district councillors, I think [resigning] is a clearer way to head into the future.”
The Democratic Party chair said a number of his party’s councillors are also planning to quit, although he said he doesn’t know exactly how many are going to do it.
He was also asked whether his party will run in the Legco polls in December, or whether the party might become yet another pressure group that’s no longer involved in the political system. But Lo did not give a definitive answer.
“My answer remains the same [about Legco]…. at this point of time I don’t think I can rule out any possibilities yet, it depends on my party members, whether they decide the party should run in the [December] elections or not,” Lo said.
The pro-democracy camp won by a landslide in district polls in late 2019 amid anti-government protests.
Under the new law which took effect in May, the secretary for justice is empowered to initiate legal proceedings to oust councillors who are deemed “unpatriotic”, and the councillors would be immediately suspended from office until the courts make a decision.
Last updated: 2021-07-11 HKT 17:52