Anticipating the disqualification of four Legco members, government officials have been secretly working on still confidential guidelines to bring order and clarity to Legco’s oath taking process. Their aim is to ensure dignity and respect for the Chamber, the Government of the HKSAR and the People’s Republic of China. A leaked copy of an advanced draft appears below.
GUIDELINES FOR OATH TAKERS IN THE HKSAR LEGISLATIVE COUNCIL
(Department of Justice, Restricted Circulation – draft number 13)
Note from Project Leader: please review latest draft and appended comments received to date and return to my office for review and consolidation by the end of the week. This will represent our major contribution to making ‘Legco, a World Class Representative Council’ (for your eyes only: this marvelous slogan, suggested by our friends in the Liaison Office, will be launched in the autumn of this year).
Oath takers will stand erect during the Process. Slouching is not permitted. Kneeling is absolutely banned as being both satirical and an insult to the Council and the Chinese people.*1 Arms shall not be raised above shoulder level but may be rested lightly on the table if the elected member *2 feels tired or emotional. Waving or otherwise signaling to other members, or to the cameras, is forbidden. Smiling, while discouraged, will be tolerated. Winking or other facial movements will be interpreted as disrespectful and lacking in solemnity. This restriction will include inappropriately raised eyebrows.
Should be consistent with the solemnity of the occasion and the status of the Council. Tee shirts, whether or not bearing printed slogans or decorative devices, are banned. Sports shoes will be treated with suspicion. Scarves should be approached with caution. To avoid confusion with banners the scarf, if worn, when laid flat should occupy an area not exceeding 360 square inches. Slogans and inappropriately suggestive patterns, either vulgar or political, will instantly result in termination of the oath taking Process. Patterned scarves, as available from Hermes and other respected suppliers, will be the benchmark of acceptability.*3, *4
Throughout the Process the elected members shall not carry, lean on or otherwise take advantage of any object, be that walking stick, umbrella (of any colour) *5, or other implement that may detract from the perceived sincerity of the member. If a member suffers from any disability, either temporary or chronic, a special dispensation may be granted, subject to the ruling of the Council President and upon the presentation of a medical certificate.
Mode of Oral Delivery
The oath should be spoken in an even tone, neither excessively loud nor unduly soft, neither too high (squeaky) nor unduly low. The delivery as judged by the Council Secretariat and the Council President should be neither unduly fast nor unduly slow. For guidance, a pause of up to four seconds between sentences is acceptable *6. A pause of such length between words, however, will be judged insincere and an attempt to render the oath meaningless.
It is recognized that members may suffer, either through nerves, infections or transient irritations coughs, sneezes or similar inadvertent bodily eruptions. These will be interpreted sympathetically but those suffering from colds, ‘flu or hay fever, or gastrointestinal upsets etc are advised to present in advance a medical certificate, and to exercise extreme caution when referring to ‘China’ or the ‘the People’s Republic of China’. Any eruptions at such a point in the oath will be open to misinterpretation and consequent penalty *7.
Advice and Rehearsal
Members wishing to rehearse and be advised about their presentation should contact the Legco Secretariat for coaching.
1. Is kneeling reference really necessary? JC
Yes. You can never be sure what the pan-dems will get up to. TL
2. I don’t think we can prior to completion of oath talk about ‘members’. They have not yet been sworn and accepted as such. Propose joint working party with Legco Secretariat to consider. DT
3. Not sure that 360 square inches is correct/adequate size. Propose conduct of random sampling. Also we should be aware of intellectual property issues. Should warn members against wearing fakes, even Chinese ones. AW
4. Shanghai Tang scarves should be encouraged as being more culturally appropriate than French ones. NM
5. We should consider banning umbrellas permanently from the Chamber. I know some members claim they are a necessary defence against accidental triggering of the sprinklers but I think they are being unduly cautious. BC
6. Should we allow a couple of seconds longer for the DAB? They are a bit older and, well, you know what I mean…RI
Absolutely not. We would be accused of favouring the pro-establishment camp JC
But we are the establishment. RI
I think you extremely ill advised to state this even in a restricted document. JC
7. Should we specify other types of bodily eruptions? AA
Don’t be vulgar! Remember we are public servants. JC