Seats in the Legislative Council chamber were barred off with ropes ahead of a meeting to approve the additional funding for the Guangzhou-Shenzhen-Hong Kong Express Rail Link on Friday. However, the chamber was only prepared as a backup, as the meeting is to be held in another room.
The Finance Committee meeting on the additional HK$19.6 billion funding is scheduled for Friday, 3:15pm in conference room 1 of the LegCo complex.
Pro-democracy People Power party lawmaker Albert Chan Wai-yip posted several photos on his Facebook account on Thursday looking at conference room 1 and the chamber through windows.
“Ahead of the meeting, the security at the LegCo has clearly increased,” Chan said. “Firstly, on the third floor of LegCo, originally it was possible to look inside conference room 1… but these two windows are covered by black cloths today [Thursday], [I] suspect they are to block other people from peeking at the security changes before the meeting.”
He also posted the security changes in the chamber: “[I] guess it is to prepare when any special situation happens in the conference room 1, the Finance Committee meeting would be moved to the chamber to continue.”
Pan-democracy camp lawmakers attempted to occupy the chairman’s table in conference room 1 during a Finance Committee meeting on February 27, in protest at acting chairman Chan Kam-lam’s ruling that cut short lawmakers’ speaking time when asking questions.
Apple Daily reported that pan-democracy camp lawmakers would protest again during Friday’s meeting should their rights to ask questions be taken away, but they have no plans to occupy the chairman’s table again, as the February action was an unplanned one without prior discussion.
The LegCo secretariat told the newspaper that it had acted upon Chan Kam-lam’s request to reserve the chamber as a back-up meeting room, as the last meeting could not be held at the conference room for some period of time.
Chan said on a Commercial Radio programme on Friday morning that he had no idea about the ropes in the chamber.
“[I] do not know who suggested [it]… I was not in Hong Kong during this period of time, and have not been to the chamber,” he said. Chan was in Beijing attending an annual political meeting.
He said that he doubted whether the ropes would be effective, as he agreed when the radio show hosts pointed out that he could demand lawmakers leave the meeting room if they violated the rules of procedure.
Chan added that he had not given any order on the security issue, only that he told security guards not to worry too much if lawmakers rushed out of their seats.