Hong Kong’s Legislative Council Brought To A Halt Again By Rebel Lawmakers Who Won’t Swear Loyalty to China

Sixtus Baggio Leung Chung-hang and Yau Wai-ching rush chamber floor, get barred from entering side room, and police and medical help sought

By Jeffie LamJoyce NgShirley ZhaoNaomi Ng, and Tony Cheung
South China Morning Post

Wednesday, November 2, 2016, 4:13 p.m.
Refusal To Swear an Oath to China: Hong Kong Lawmakers Tie Up Legislative Council Again, November 2, 2016

Key points today:

> The fourth meeting of the Legislative Council was adjourned by Legco president Andrew Leung Kwan-yuen around 1.30pm today after four security guards were hurt when they tried to block localist lawmakers Yau Wai-ching and Sixtus Baggio Leung Chung-hang from entering a conference room where the lawmaking body had relocated.

 Sixtus Baggio Leung Chung-hang (restrained in group) and Yau Wai-ching (with microphone) on the chamber floor. Photo: Felix Wong

> At Andrew Leung’s request, a team of police officers arrived at the chaotic scene, and three security guards were sent to hospital.

> The Legco president rejected Democratic Party lawmaker James To Kun-sun’s request to move an urgent question about interpretation of the Basic Law, Hong Kong’s mini-constitution. To cited media reports the National People’s Congress Standing Committee was considering the possibility.

 Yau Wai-ching speaking after being taken away from the Legco chamber in Tamar. Photo: Sam Tsang

> In the main chamber, Andrew Leung suspended Legco’s meeting for 30 minutes at 11:30am and changed the meeting venue after the two localists stormed the chamber. The two had been banned from attending until they are formally sworn in.

> Localist Lau Siu-lai, whose original oath was invalidated because of the extremely slow manner in which she recited it, was successfully sworn in.

3.35pm – Andrew Leung condemns violence

Legco president Andrew Leung Kwan-yuen condemns the violent acts of the Youngspiration duo and their supporters. He says six security guards were injured in the row.

 Legco president Andrew Leung Kwan-yuen condemned the chaos that led to injuries. Photo: Sam Tsang

Leung says news that Beijing planned to interpret the Basic Law in order to settle the oath saga was premature. He says the Hong Kong court’s hearing of the oath-taking case is still on for tomorrow as far as he knows.

2pm – No contrition from Youngspiration duo

Baggio Leung and Yau Wai-ching appear unapologetic over the injuries, saying some assistants to other lawmakers were injured too. He says the Legco president and Secretariat should bear full responsibility for the chaos and injuries.

“I’ll send them my regards,” he says when asked whether he will apologise to the injured officers.

I call on them not to take orders from bosses that are unreasonable and unlawful

“I call on them not to take orders from bosses that are unreasonable and unlawful,” he adds. “They have a choice.”

The two say they only meant to enter the meeting room and perform their duties as lawmakers and did not mean to hurt anyone.

Leung explains why he and Yau changed their minds about staying away from the meeting and decided instead to storm the conference room – Andrew Leung’s rejection of James To’s motion to debate Beijing’s possible interpretation of the Basic Law.

“If the legislature cannot even debate this major issue, what is it doing here?” he asks.

1.50pm – ‘Totally unacceptable’

Pro-establishment lawmakers say after the meeting that the Legco Commission should hold an emergency meeting to discuss how to improve security arrangements to prevent security guards from being injured again.

DAB lawmaker Starry Lee Wai-king says she was informed about the decision to call the police to intervene and that she agreed with it.

“Our security guards are not professional enough and they need help,” she says. “[The violence] is totally unacceptable and all those involved should be condemned.”

 A Legco security employee being carried out today. Photo: Sam Tsang

1.31pm – Carried out on stretchers

Four Legislative Council security employees are receiving medical help, with three being brought out on stretchers. One is given an oxygen mask.

In total, three security guards – one woman and two men – are being sent to hospital following the chaos.

1.25pm – ‘Is this Legco or a police station?’

“Long Hair” Leung Kwok-hung tries to block police officers from entering the conference room.

“Is this Legco or a police station?” he asks.

 “Long Hair” Leung Kwok-hung trying to block police at Legco. Photo: Sam Tsang

Moments earlier, the radical pro-democracy lawmaker blasts Legco president Andrew Leung Kwan-yuen for notifying the police, calling the decision “a very serious and unreasonable event”.

 Medical attention inside Legco’s conference room where today’s meeting was held and adjourned. Photo: Joyce Ng

1.20pm – Police arrive

At least seven police officers arrive at Legco following the chaos outside conference room 1. By law, police officers are not authorised to enter the legislature unless they are invited by the Legco president and the Secretary-General.

The officers include members of Police Tactical Unit. They have yet to explain their purpose.

 Police arriving at Legco. Photo: Jeffie Lam

1.16pm – Meeting adjourned

Legco president announces today’s meeting is adjourned. Next meeting is to be held next week.

1.11pm – A security guard faints

Legco president Andrew Leung Kwan-yuen tells media outside the conference room that a security guard has fainted and that the body’s Secretariat has filed a police report.

1.07pm – Another suspension

After Undersecretary for Constitutional and Mainland Affairs Ronald Chan Ngok-pang reads out his answer to the first oral question and before lawmakers pose their follow-up questions, the Legco president suspends the meeting citing “the chaos outside”.

Outside the room, scuffles break out as Youngspiration tries to push through the security guards and storm the meeting. They swear at the guards, and more security guards are deployed.

 The Legislative Council building in Tamar today before the chaos got going. Photo: Xiaomei Chen

1pm – ‘You’re breaking the law!’

Some people, who appeared to be backers of the localist group Youngspiration, are shouting at security guards outside the conference room where the Legislative Council is meeting. The guards had blocked the two localist lawmakers from entering the meeting room moments before.

“Don’t block us, aunties!” they chant at the female guards. “According to the powers and privileges ordinance, no one should block lawmakers from entering the meeting room. You are now breaking the law.”

12.59pm – Moving right along

After Legco president Andrew Leung Kwan-yuen’s ruling and the Youngspiration pair are prevented from entering, Democrat Ted Hui Chi-fung is allowed to ask the first oral question. Hui asks about irregularities in the Legislative Council elections.

12:55pm – Guess who’s back again?

Baggio Leung and Yau Wai-ching, who after today’s suspended proceedings in the main chamber said they would not storm the council meeting again, attempt to enter the new meeting venue again, triggering more chaos.

 Yau Wai-ching (head between arms) trying to enter Legco’s conference room. Photo: Sam Tsang

12.54pm – No debate allowed

Several pan-democrats Wu Chi-wai and Claudia Mo urge the president to allow the motion, also saying the chief executive had hinted at the possibility of an interpretation by Beijing.

To this Andrew Leung says: “I have decided.”

“My ruling is not open to debate,” the Legco president adds. “If you want to clarify anything, do it on another occasion.”

12.52pm – And the first order of business…

Meeting resumes. Legco president Andrew Leung Kwan-yuen disallows Democratic Party lawmaker James To Kun-sun’s motion for a debate on interpreting Basic Law interpretation.

“Obviously, Councillor To’s request is based on media reports, not real happenings,” Leung says. “So I can’t approve it.”

To disagrees with Leung’s ruling. The lawmaker cites Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying as saying that he would not “rule out the possibility” of interpreting the Basic Law.

 Legco president Andrew Leung Kwan-yuen speaking to media after adjourning the meeting today. Photo: Sam Tsang

12.42pm – Meeting resuming soon

Legco will reconvene in 10 minutes in conference room 1. Most lawmakers are getting ready in their seats.

12.09pm – Lo Wai-kwok calls for respect of rules

Pro-establishment lawmaker Lo Wai-kwok, representing the engineering sector, says he hopes lawmakers could respect council rules.

“If some people storm in the chamber, utter a lot of words and then say they have finished taking their oath, it is absolutely ridiculous,” he says.

 A grim-faced pair: Yau Wai-ching and Baggio Leung outside Legco. Photo: Sam Tsang

12.04pm – ‘Beijing might encourage Hong Kong independence’

Baggio Leung says if Beijing does interpret the Basic Law, it would help the growth of Hong Kong independence. He says the “one country, two systems” principle and Hong Kong independence are two options Hongkongers have and that an interpretation would undermine the principle, and thus leave Hongkongers no option but to choose independence.

11.56am – Motion to debate Beijing’s possible interpretation

As the Legco meeting resumes in conference room 1, veteran Democratic Party lawmaker James To Kun-sun tables a motion calling for a debate on the National People’s Congress’ expected interpretation of the Basic Law regarding Youngspiration duo’s oath-taking.

Legco president Andrew Leung Kwun-yuen calls for another break so that he can consider whether to allow the debate.

11.50am – Baggio Leung holds forth

During the 30-minute break, Baggio Leung announces that he and Yau will not try again for now to enter conference room 1.

Our seats now only symbolise whether truth exists in Hong Kong

“I don’t want any journalists to get injured or encounter any danger,” he says.

Asked if he and Yau would stay away from the council meeting today, Leung says: “Please give us some time to think about what we’ll do next.”

The Youngspiration member says an interpretation by Beijing would “not only destroy democracy, but also our core values, separation of powers, everything”.

Leung dismissed concerns that he was jeopardising his seat in the city’s legislature.

“Our seats now only symbolise whether truth exists in Hong Kong,” he says. “I hope to prove to the court that we are right, otherwise we’ll question whether Hong Kong is still the place we knew.”

“I dare say it is not.”

 Baggio Leung with Yau Wai-ching speaking outside the chamber. Photo: Sam Tsang

11.50am – Pro-establishment leader criticises duo

Lawmaker and executive councillor Starry Lee Wai-king, chairwoman of the Democratic Alliance for the Betterment and Progress of Hong Kong, says the Youngspiration duo’s entering the chamber was disrespectful of the Legco president’s decision and prevented the council from discussing legislative affairs.

 DAB chairwoman Starry Lee Wai-king speaking outside Legco after the meeting was suspended. Photo: David Wong

“I hope [the pair] will not enter by force again, and I hope the non-establishment lawmakers do not escort them into the council again,” she says.

She declines to comment on Beijing’s possible interpretation of the Basic Law.

Watch: Live from Legco, after localist pair were blocked in attempt to retake oaths

11.31am – If at first you don’t succeed…

Before the meeting resumes in Legco’s conference room 1 on the second floor, the Youngspiration duo take a lift from the first floor to try to enter the room by surprise.

But they were outpaced by security guards who blocked them at the room entrances. They are stuck, surrounded by photographers and cameramen.

 Baggio Leung would not leave the chamber, but did after Legco president Andrew Leung announced a new venue for the meeting. Photo: K. Y. Cheng

11.26am – Baggio not budging

Baggio Leung refuses to leave the chamber. Legco president Andrew Leung Kwan-yuen announces the council meeting will continue in a conference room in 30 minutes.

 Baggio Leung surrounded and Yau Wai-ching being escorted away. Photo: Felix Wong

11.25am – Yau Wai-ching speaks

Yau Wai-ching said after being escorted out that she entered the chamber to carry out her responsibility as a lawmaker.

Whoever asks for interpretation of the law is the one selling Hongkongers out

“I have read the whole oath and I hope I can keep staying in the chamber and attend the meeting,” she says.

Yau said Legco president Andrew Leung had contravened the rules in blocking her from taking her oath.

Yau also expressed concerns this morning over Beijing’s possible hand in the matter.

“My concern is about the destruction of the ‘one country two systems’ policy,” she says.

“Whoever asks for interpretation of the law is the one selling Hongkongers out.”

 Yau Wai-ching being taken away this morning. Photo: K. Y. Cheng

11.24am – Support circle

Baggio Leung is helped by pan-democratic and localist allies, including Ted Hui Chi-fung, “Long Hair” Leung Kwok-hung, Raymond Chan Chi-chuen and Eddie Chu Hoi-dick, who surround the Youngspiration member as security guards try to take him away.

Watch: Legco live as it’s happening

11.16am – ‘This cannot be done!’

Lawmaker Eddie Chu Hoi-dick joins the Legco fray, shouting: “This cannot be done! He [Baggio Leung] was voted in and chosen by thousands of Hongkongers!”

11.12am – Physical obstruction

Lawmakers and security guards are in a deadlock as a group tries to physically carry Sixtus Baggio Leung Chung-hang out of the chamber.

Pan-democratic lawmaker “Long Hair” Leung Kwok-hung lies on the floor to block the procession out.

 Pro-establishment lawmakers turn their back on localist Lau Siu-lai. Photo: K. Y. Cheng

11.07am – The duo enter and rush the floor

As the UGL motion was passed, Baggio Leung and Yau Wai-ching enter the chamber accompanied by several pan-democratic lawmakers trailing them, including Eddie Chu Hoi-dick and Nathan Law Kwun-chung.

 The duo enter the chamber. Photo: Felix Wong

Once inside, the two rush the table in front of Legco president Andrew Leung. They take out a small piece of paper, pick up a small microphone and start to read the Legislative Council Oath.

 But the Legco president tells them to leave, and when they refuse, he asks the security guards to take them away.

 Yau Wai-ching and Sixtus Baggio Leung Chung-hang outside Legco this morning. Photo: Sam Tsang

This request prompts several accompanying lawmakers, including Nathan Law Kwun-chung and Eddie Chu Hoi-dick, to try to stop the security guards from taking them away.

Andrew Leung orders the meeting to be suspended. Yau is taken away. Baggio Leung remains.

11.05am – Meanwhile, a motion passes

Accountancy sector lawmaker Kenneth Leung’s motion to launch a special inquiry into Chief Executive Leung Chun-Ying’s UGL controversy is passed after 28 lawmakers including the lawmakers stand in support of his motion.

The probe will look at the chief executive’s receipt in 2014 of HK$50 million from Australian firm UGL.

11.01am – Lau Siu-lai finally sworn in

Legco meeting starts, and Lau has taken her oath.

10.49am – Regina Ip talks and balks

New People’s Party chairwoman and lawmaker Regina Ip Lau Suk-yee struggles to give an answer when asked whether she supports or opposes an interpretation by Beijing.

“The good side of it is it can speed up the process,” she says. “It may be two years for the local judicial process to resolve the case.

She says the central government is “furious” about the Youngspiration duo.

“The down side is an interpretation will attack Hong Kong’s rule of law and the authority of the Hong Kong government.”

So does she support the move or not? “I don’t know,” she says.

10.45am – Protesters outside Legco

Around 20 demonstrators from the League of Social Democrats protested outside Legco, chanting: “legislators’ right to be elected should not be deprived by the Chinese communist party”. They urged Legco chairman Andrew Leung Kwan-yuen to withdraw his decision to bar the Youngspiration duo from taking their oath again, saying the decision showed he had given up his non-partisan position in depriving lawmakers of their right to discuss legislative affairs.

 The protest area outside Legco in Tamar is relatively empty this morning. Photo: Xiaomei Chen

Lawmaker “Long Hair” Leung Kwok-hung is among the protesters and says the Legco president has capitulated to Beijing and suppressed democratically elected lawmakers.

“If [Leung] insists on serving the strong power, ignoring people’s opinions and trampling the Legislative Council, the non-establishment lawmakers will have no other choice but to escalate our fight till the end,” he said.

Watch: Jeffie Lam reports live outside Legco as lawmakers return for fourth meeting

10.44am – Former missing bookseller chimes in

Former missing bookseller Lam Wing-Kee announces he will join a demonstration 7pm tonight from the chief executive’s office to the central government’s liaison office in the city.

In a statement sent by the Democratic Party, Lam said Beijing’s interpretation of the Basic Law to settle the oath case would “destroy the judicial independence of Hong Kong”.

10.40am – One localist’s plan

Lau Siu-Lai, who is arranged to retake the oath today, says she will act “according to her conscience” before entering the chamber.

The localist was asked to redo he oath after pausing too long between every word during her first oath taking.

 Lawmaker Lau Siu-lai had her first oath invalidated. Photo: David Wong

10.35am – Democratic Party blasts possible Beijing review

Democratic Party lawmaker James To Kun-sun said his party strongly opposed Beijing’s possible interpretation of the Basic Law, arguing Hong Kong had jurisdiction to handle the dispute.

He said the possible move by the NPCSC might hurt global confidence in the “one country, two systems” principle.

 Lawmaker James To Kun-sun (centre), flanked by fellow Democratic Party members, calling on Beijing to refrain from interpreting the Basic Law over the oath controversy. Photo: David Wong

The Democrats have filed an urgent oral question and an adjournment motion pending approval by Legco president Andrew Leung Kwan-yuen. They also asked for an urgent meeting with Secretary for Justice Rimsky Yuen Kwok-keung to discuss the oath matter.

 Pro-establishment protesters outside the legislative complex in Tamar this morning. Photo: Xiaomei Chen

10.30am – ‘Leave it to the court’

Civic Party lawmaker Dennis Kwok, representing the legal sector, said it would be a significant blow to Hong Kong’s rule of law should the National People’s CongressStanding Committee decide to interpret the Basic Law at this stage as a judicial review looms.

“I want to tell NPCSC and the Basic Law Committee directly that I hope they would respect the ongoing judicial process in Hong Kong and that the court would definitely handle the case in a fair and just manner,” he said. “I don’t see any need for the [NPCSC] to interpret the law at this stage.”

 Civic Party lawmaker Dennis Kwok Wing-hang today. Photo: David Wong

He also alleged conflicts of interests involving Johnny Mok Shu-luen SC, a Basic Law Committee member who is representing the government in the Legco legal challenge.

Mok should either promise not to engage in the committee’s discussion on interpreting the law or not represent the government in the case, he said.

The newly-elected Legislative Council, which had its weekly council meeting adjourned for two consecutive weeks since it started on October 12, will convene again at 11am this morning.

The meeting comes just a day ahead of a court hearing for a judicial review filed by the government challenging the Legco president’s decision to allow two localist lawmakers to retake their oaths after their first failed attempt caused a huge political stir.

It also comes after the national legislative body confirmed plans to intervene in the row by issuing an interpretation of Hong Kong’s mini-constitution on Thursday – as suggested by Beijing and local sources.

The oaths by Sixtus Baggio Leung Chung-hang and Yau Wai-ching, both of the localist group Youngspiration, were invalidated by the president after they pledged allegiance to “Hong Kong nation” and called China “Shina” –a derogatory term used by Japan during the second world war.

Watch: Legco oath-taking crisis last Wednesday

Legco president Andrew Leung Kwan-yuen originally decided to offer the pair a second chance, but he later made a dramatic U-turn and banned the duo from entering the chamber after his pro-Beijing allies protested.

The meeting was eventually cut short last week after the localist pair defied Leung’s decision to storm the chamber with the help of eight pan-democrats.

Lawmakers across the political spectrum are today expected to clearly express their views on Beijing’s reported plan to interpret the Basic Law – a plan already strongly condemned by pan-democrats and legal scholars as a huge blow to the city’s rule of law and a deprival of Hong Kong court’s jurisdiction.

Meanwhile, it remains uncertain whether another newly-elected localist, Lau Siu-lai of the Democracy Groundwork, will be able to retake her oath smoothly in today’s session. Leung granted her a second chance after she spent eight minutes delivering her first oath by pausing six seconds between even Chinese word.

 Yau Wai-ching and Sixtus Baggio Leung Chung-hang (second right) of Youngspiration surrounded by pro-democratic lawmakers Nathan Law Kwun-chung (white shirt) and Shiu Ka-chun (far right) last Wednesday. Photo: Sam Tsang

It was understood that the democratic caucus planned to facilitate Lau’s oath-taking and that the Youngspiration pair would not storm the meeting until Lau had been sworn in.

The Legco Secretariat introduced new measures yesterday dividing the area outside the chamber between the press zone and a passageway for councillors to use. It reminded reporters they were prohibited from entering the chamber or blocking lawmakers from entering.



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One Response to “Hong Kong’s Legislative Council Brought To A Halt Again By Rebel Lawmakers Who Won’t Swear Loyalty to China”

  1. daveyone1 Says:

    Reblogged this on World Peace Forum.

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