One of the hot topics over the past few days is whether Andrew Leung, the newly elected President of the Legislative Council, has given up his British citizenship to comply with the requirement of being a President of LegCo stated in the Basic Law. After numerous requests by the non-Beijing camp and the public, Leung finally displayed the declaration of renunciation of British citizenship in front of the cameras.
However, since Leung’s document is apparently different from the one shown by pro-democracy lawmaker Claudia Mo who had renounced her British citizenship in 2009, many doubts the authenticity of Leung’s document. Local news commentator Jacky Lim compared and analysed the documents of Leung and Mo in his personal blog, and suspected Leung of using a false instrument as the authenticity of Leung’s document remained doubtful.
His argument is mainly based on the difference between the official stamps on the two documents. Mo’s stamp is blue in colour while Leung’s one is black and has a notably different design.
Also, the date of Leung’s stamp is relatively blurry and not aligned with the frame. Lim therefore suggested that the stamp is likely to be forged using Photoshop and a date stamp that is widely available on the market.
Such speculation is, indeed, logically and making sense. However, we cannot draw a definite conclusion with such little information.
In fact, I happened to have renounced my British National (Overseas) status (BNO) not long ago, and the process of it is actually the same with that of renouncing full British Citizenship. I am going to do a small analysis by comparing my experience with Leung’s document.
First of all, you have to download the form RN from Home Office’s website.
The form consists of 6 pages, the first 4 of which are the application form, while the last 2 are the declaration form, which will be returned to the applicant and is considered as a formal evidence of renunciation once stamped and signed.
If the applicant is staying overseas, he/she has to send it via international mail to the relevent department in the UK. I have enquired the British consulate in Hong Kong, and they replied by saying that they could not process my application locally. I do not know if it is the same case for full British Citizenship, but based on what Leung told the media, I believe he applied through mail as well.
The first doubt I have is that how did Leung manage to get his application processed in such a short period of time? The form is shown to be signed by Leung on September 22, and the official stamp is dated September 30, which is merely 8 days apart. In my case, I mailed my application on August 5, and the mail tracking system showed that the parcel was received on August 12. I then received an email confirming that my application had been received on August 26, and my credit card was charged around the same time. Subsequently, my application was approved on September 22 and was mailed to me in early October. It took me nearly two months. It is unclear how Leung went through the process in just a week’s time.
The following is my declaration of renunciation of BNO:
As you can see, the black stamp on Leung’s document is actually very similar to that on my document. Apparently, the Home Office did change the design of the stamp (with a blurry date somehow), and therefore the design of Leung’s stamp isn’t a strong argument to comment on the authenticity of the document in my opinion.
In spite of that, there is a very notable difference between my document and Leung’s one. Why is the location of the stamp and pressed seal stamped away from the signature on Leung’s document? The pressed stamp on my document is stamped in between the official signature and date stamp, and thus I believe it is logical to assume that the purpose of a pressed seal is to prevent others from tampering with the stamp and the signature. However, the pressed stamp on Leung’s document is stamped on the date stamp only, leaving the signature prone to be tampered with. Is there any explanation for the difference of the location of stamps? Is there a standardised protocol? These are the questions that have to be answered.
The above analysis is just based on my own observation on the difference between my document and Leung’s document shown in the video, which are all the information I have. I am not professionally trained, and therefore I cannot conclude on the authenticity of Leung’s document. The purpose of this analysis is just to provide a more solid evidence for discussion. I hope Andrew Leung or the Home Office can clarify my doubts some day in the future.