Lam session scrapped amid pan-dem chaos

Top News | Phoenix Un 6 Dec 2018

Protests over Eddie Chu Hoi-dick's disqualification as a rural representative candidate led to the cancellation of the chief executive's question-and-answer session at the Legislative Council.

This renewed calls from the pro-establishment camp to amend Legco rules and procedures to punish rule-breaking lawmakers.

A monthly Q&A session at Legco was introduced by Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor after she assumed office. It was the first time it was canceled as angry lawmakers shouted their discontent about alleged political censorship over Chu.

Chu was disqualified from running in next month's rural representative election after the returning officer accused him of "implicitly" supporting independence as an option for self-determination of Hong Kong people.

Before yesterday's session started at 11am, pro-democracy legislators stood outside the chamber shouting "political censorship, shame!"

They tailed Lam as she entered the chamber, where they continued bellowing the slogans. This prompted Legco president Andrew Leung Kwan-yuen to expel Claudia Mo Man-ching, convener of the pro-democracy camp meetings, within 10 seconds after she entered. No prior warning was given.

Chu and Raymond Chan Chi-chuen, of People Power, were the next to be ejected as Leung warned lawmakers they would be thrown out without warning if they raised their voices.

"Please respect the chief executive when she is here," Leung said.

Guards surrounded Mo, Chu and Chan, trying to remove them from the chamber, but they were stopped by other lawmakers.

Failing to end the chaos, Leung announced the suspension of the meeting. Although it resumed about 10 minutes later, pan-democrats continued to make a ruckus, prompting Leung to cancel the session altogether.

Lam said the cancellation was regrettable. "I think it's a pity that I missed this chance, but I will continue to closely communicate with lawmakers," she said.

Wong Kwok-kin, of the Federation of Trade Unions, said his party will write to the Committee on Rules of Procedure to resume discussions for tightening Legco rules.

"We took a conservative approach in the past and believed the amendment should be discussed thoroughly. But the situation this time reminded us that the opposition has no self-discipline," Wong said.

His partymate Michael Luk Chung-hung accused the pan-democrats of supporting independence advocacy.

In response, Mo criticized the FTU for having "leftist toxin in their brain." She added: "They're turning the Legislative Council into the National People's Congress in Beijing."

Mo also lambasted Leung for "abusing his power" as he ordered her to leave in just 10 seconds.

Leung disagreed, saying he had given ample warnings to legislators.

"Maybe she couldn't hear me because she was yelling," he said.

Leung said he was hoping to reschedule the session to next week but Lam does not have the time.

Paul Tse Wai-chun said the Committee on Rules of Procedure, which he heads, has studied the practice of parliaments overseas.

Yesterday's incident won't affect the pace of the amendment as "it's not the first time that there has been chaos in the chamber," he said.

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