Community & Education Hong Kong Politics & Protest

Ousted lawmaker returns to LegCo as a private citizen to advocate welfare for poor families

Ousted pro-democracy lawmaker “Long Hair” Leung Kwok-hung has returned to the Legislative Council to speak as a member of the public in support of welfare for low-income families and long-term patients.

Leung, who first served as a legislator in 2004, was disqualified by the High Court last Friday alongside three pro-democracy colleagues for the way he took his oath of office last October. A total of six opposition lawmakers were ousted since Beijing interpreted the Basic Law in November to retroactively clarify how their oaths should have been taken.

“Long Hair” Leung Kwok-hung. Photo: HKFP/Kris Cheng.

But on Monday, Leung attended a legislative panel meeting as a representative of the Concerning CSSA and Low Income Alliance, telling labour officials that a government welfare scheme for low-income families needed to be reformed. He called for the relaxation of stringent testing to determine families’ eligibility for the scheme, and for the scheme to be funded by a progressive profits tax on businesses.

Leung attended a second meeting on Tuesday as a representative of his party, the League of Social democrats, calling for more government subsidies for long-term patients to purchase expensive medicine.

The issue of expensive but subsidised drugs made the headlines of Hong Kong’s newspapers in April after 36-year-old mother Chi Yin-lan died of a rare genetic disease, days after making a plea at the legislature for the government to subsidise her medicine.

“Don’t think that if you disqualify legislators, then nobody’s here to monitor you,” Leung told Deputy Secretary for Food and Health Howard Chan at the Tuesday meeting.

“They are here,” he said, pointing to the other members of the public in attendance.

Long Hair Leung Kwok-hung

Leung Kwok-hung speaking as a member of the public on Tuesday. Photo: Apple Daily.

Apple Daily filmed two people in the meeting – members of a family whose twin children suffered from spinal-muscular atrophy – breaking down in tears as Leung spoke.

Lau Siu-lai’s final act

Meanwhile on Monday evening, Lau Siu-lai – another disqualified lawmaker – posted details of her final legislative act on Facebook. She had been advocating the expansion of the North Lantau Hospital in anticipation of an increase in population in the nearby new town of Tung Chung.

“Residents who want to see gynaecologists and paediatricians often have to travel all the way to Princess Margaret Hospital in Lai King – this makes Tung Chung residents suffer,” she wrote. “Although the accident and emergency department is open 24 hours a day, the pharmacy is not.”

Lau wrote that after meeting officials on Thursday, they provided a written response at 12pm on Friday, promising to provide 24-hour pharmacy services at the hospital and introduce 40 new hospital beds in 2018.

She was disqualified at 3pm.

Lau Siu-lai

Lau Siu-lai. Photo: HKFP/Kris Cheng.

The four disqualified lawmakers Leung, Lau, Nathan Law and Edward Yiu were ordered to pay the government’s legal costs for the judicial review against them. Their lawyers told HKFP they might be asked to pay fees of HK$2-4 million in total.

See also: Hong Kong’s 4 ejected lawmakers ask for donations after being ordered to pay gov’t legal costs

They may also be asked to return their salaries and expenses to the Legislative Council – a demand levied on ousted localists Yau Wai-ching and Baggio Leung – as all six were deemed to have been disqualified as of the date of their oaths, on October 12.

Ousted lawmaker returns to LegCo as a private citizen to advocate welfare for poor families