The Democratic Party has suspended lawmaker Ted Hui and criticised his behaviour, after he snatched a phone from a civil servant in the hope of learning what government officers were doing in the legislature.
On Tuesday, Hui snatched a phone from a government executive officer at the legislature who was tasked with checking upon the whereabouts of lawmakers. He checked the device in a mens’ bathroom for some ten minutes.
Hui apologised again on Thursday and bowed in front of reporters: “I have done something very very wrong. My behaviour was very inappropriate. I have caused massive pressure and trouble to the officer. I have disappointed the public.”
However, Hui still faced punishment following a special meeting of his party’s central committee.
Democratic Party Chair Wu Chi-wai said Hui’s party membership had been indefinitely suspended, pending the outcome of an internal disciplinary hearing.
“Ted Hui bullied and offended the female officer, seriously tarnished the Democratic Party’s reputation. His act was extremely inappropriate, and fell short of public expectations – we strongly condemn him,” he said.
Wu and four other lawmaker of the party bowed in apology to the public. Hui will be unable to speak on behalf of the party over any policy issues during the suspension.
Emily Lau, former chair of the Democratic Party, said Hui’s behaviour angered the public.
Lau, who said she was only an ordinary party member, said: “He should not stay in the party and should not be a lawmaker anymore.”
Chief Executive Carrie Lam also criticised Hui’s behaviour as “barbaric.”
“I believe the Democratic Party will handle this incident seriously,” she said.
On whether Hui should resign, Lam said: “He admitted his personal behaviour, I hope he will deeply reflect on it.”
Pro-democracy lawmaker Au Nok-hin, a former Democratic Party member, said he supported a disciplinary hearing being held.
“But regardless of how inappropriate Hui’s action was, he should not be forced to resign. We should not support any political move that will help the pro-establishment camp,” he said.
“He is a representative voted for by the public – he brings the public’s voice into the legislature. There is room to discuss whether what he did is worth [disqualification].”
“Regardless of how wrong Hui is, it is very far from Holden Chow, who colluded with 689 [former leader Leung Chun-ying], and Junius Ho, who did not make his declarations [on land interests] and made remarks on killing people. They are still staying on in the legislature happily.”
The pro-Beijing camp is likely to table a motion to censure Hui. The Democratic Party has said the party will not vote if a censure motion is tabled, in order to avoid any conflict of interest.
A censure motion requires the votes of two-thirds of lawmakers in attendance to pass. The legislature has 68 members, of which 25 belong to the pro-democracy camp – not including neutral medical sector lawmaker Pierre Chan.
If the Democratic Party – which holds seven seats – does not attend the meeting, Hui may be at risk of disqualification.