Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying’s question and answer session at the Legislative Council was prematurely cut short on Thursday as pro-democracy lawmakers staged a protest against the president’s decision to kick out a colleague.
Lawmaker Lau Siu-lai was questioning Leung over the universal pension scheme. She played an audio clip of Leung at a 2011 forum on her phone where he said that the scheme was “worth doing.” On Wednesday, shortly after his Policy Address, Leung said that he never made a promise regarding the scheme in his 2012 election manifesto.
LegCo President Andrew Leung Kwan-yuen then told Lau to stop twice, but Lau said she could not hear what he said the second time. Leung demanded she leave the chamber for disorderly conduct.
Security guards then attempted to pull her away from the chamber.
Her pro-democracy camp colleagues then blocked the door to stop her from being removed. Lau fell the the ground, before her colleagues formed a human chain to protect her.
As the situation escalated, Andrew Leung adjourned the meeting.
Lau told reporters that she did not see any problem in playing a clip of Leung Chun-ying which was related to the question she was asking.
In fact, in his election manifesto, Leung promised to use fiscal reserves to “to meet future expenditures arising from the ageing population such as medical and healthcare expense and pension payments.”
Lau said she was disappointed by Andrew Leung’s judgement: “Can this legislature truly have a fair discussion? Is it that they will do anything just to avoid [Leung’s] embarrassment?”
She also accused the pro-Beijing camp of having an advantage as they were allowed to press a button and queue up to speak earlier than pro-democracy camp members, thus blocking them from speaking.
“Many pro-Beijing camp members queued up in front of us and helped with ‘filibustering’ – each of them spoke for 10, 15 minutes,” she said.
Pro-democracy camp lawmakers said the requirement for disorderly conduct was judged subjectively.
“It’s absolutely unreasonable, you can tell that is a blatant exercise of his power, amounting to abuse of power, I would call that political censorship on the part of Andrew Leung,” said lawmaker Claudia Mo.
The pro-Beijing lawmakers claimed Lau was “clearly violating the rules of procedure.”
“If everyone brings a recorder to play clips or bring a loudspeaker… Is this the chamber of the LegCo, or a street market?” asked Wong Kwok-kin.
The camp’s convener Martin Liao said such a dismissal of lawmakers has happened in the past. He cited the case when “Long Hair” Leung Kwok-hung was kicked out for using a loudspeaker in December 2012.
“There was already a precedent,” he said.
Lawmaker Gary Chan Hak-kan denied there was a “filibuster.”
“Lawmakers’ questions have to be made within one to two minutes. But there is no limitation on the duration of replies made by officials to lawmakers,” he said.
League of Social Democrats lawmaker Leung Kwok-hung was also removed from the chamber earlier in the meeting after he attempted to throw a “rat” protest prop featuring Financial Secretary Paul Chan’s face.