Pro-Beijing lawmaker Christopher Cheung has been accused of using a legislative rule to effectively block efforts by democrats to prevent part of the Central Harbourfront being given to the People’s Liberation Army (PLA). As a result, a pier is set to be transferred to the army on Saturday.
Pro-democracy legislators have said the move by Cheung will only anger more Hongkongers ahead of the annual July 1 pro-democracy march.
The government’s plan to hand the pier to the PLA – announced in April – was proposed in the form of five pieces of subsidiary legislation. They will automatically take effect on June 29.
Democrats Au Nok-hin and Eddie Chu had proposed resolutions at the legislature to be debated on Wednesday which, if passed, may have stopped the pier from being transferred.
However, in a surprise move, Cheung requested a debate adjournment. Lawmakers, instead, needed to focus their time on debating how to make Hong Kong harmonious again, Cheung said, in light of the recent anti-extradition law protests.
“I hope lawmakers, from the pro-establishment camp and the pro-democracy camp, can discuss suggestions calmly through this debate, so that the Hong Kong government can work again and govern effectively,” he said. He denied he was blocking opposition to the PLA plan.
Legislative Council President Andrew Leung allowed Cheung’s adjournment request to be debated, with discussion continuing until 8pm on Thursday, when legislative proceedings closed for the week.
As a result, Au and Chu’s resolutions were not heard, and the pier is set to be given to the PLA.
Au said Cheung was “using little tricks” to block their resolutions and had created more controversy: “Some people online have been calling for a protest on Friday when the PLA receives the pier,” he said. “There must be more people [set to] march on July 1 as well.”
“The move by the pro-Beijing camp will only cause more splits in society,” he added.
Civic Party lawmaker Kwok Ka-ki said the pro-Beijing camp was using its majority to forcefully bypass Au and Chu’s resolutions.
“A military pier at the Central Harbourfront has little use in reality… Hong Kong is now in a dire situation, but the government has not tried to prevent more conflicts from happening,” he said.
Activist Lester Shum filed a legal challenge in April against the plan to give the pier to the PLA. The legal challenge has yet to be heard.
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