A pro-Beijing lawmaker has urged the president of the Legislative Council to “count the souls” of pan-democratic lawmakers who intentionally leave the chamber to terminate the meeting, to meet the quorum required.

Pan-democrats have been trying to delay Hong Kong’s controversial new copyright bill. A meeting must be abandoned if fewer than 35 lawmakers are present. So most pan-democrats leave the chamber when they hear the quorum bell – which triggers a headcount – unless they are speaking.

Although they rarely speak, the pro-Beijing camp does not want the meeting to be cut short, hence they have to stay in – or near – the chamber for up to 11 hours a day. Pan-democrats have complained of the pro-Beijing camp lawmakers that “their bodies are here, but their souls aren’t”.

Lo Wai-kwok. Photo: HKFP remix.

Lo Wai-kwok, a Business and Professionals Alliance for Hong Kong lawmaker, said that the pan-democrats were “speaking nonsense”.

“Those pan-democrats who were not in the chamber, their bodies were not here, but were their souls here?” he asked.

Ann Chiang Lai-wan, a Democratic Alliance for the Betterment and Progress of Hong Kong lawmaker, giggled when Lo spoke.

He continued: “If yes, the next time a pan-democrat requests a headcount, President, please count the souls of those absent pan-democrats. Then we will meet the quorum.”

But LegCo president Jasper Tsang Yok-sing said he cannot accept Lo’s suggestion.

“Because I know that souls that have left the bodies are ghosts; the quorum of the Council can only count people that are alive, but not ghosts,” Tsang said.

Kris Cheng

Kris Cheng is a Hong Kong journalist with an interest in local politics. His work has been featured in Washington Post, Public Radio International, Hong Kong Economic Times and others. He has a BSSc in Sociology from the Chinese University of Hong Kong. Kris is HKFP's Editorial Director.