Opposition lawmaker Cheng Chung-tai was the first lawmaker to be ordered to leave a Legislative Council meeting this term after he turned Chinese and Hong Kong flags on the desks of pro-Beijing camp lawmakers upside down.

Cheng, of Civic Passion, began his protest minutes after the pro-Beijing camp walked out of the chamber on Wednesday. The walkout was an effort to prevent Youngspiration’s “Baggio” Leung Chung-hang and Yau Wai-ching from retaking their oaths until they apologised for their pledges last week, which the camp deemed to be an insult to Chinese people.

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As pro-Beijing lawmakers had placed flags of the People’s Republic of China and Hong Kong on their desks, Cheng left his seat and flipped them over one by one. His move was spotted by pro-Beijing lawmaker Ann Chiang Lai-wan, who shouted at Cheng to stop.

“Cheng Chung-tai, what are you doing? What are you doing? You flipped our national flags?” Chiang shouted, before she returned the flags to their original state.

Ann Chiang
Ann Chiang discovering that flags were flipped upside down. Photo: Facebook/Cheng Chung-tai.

Cheng and Chiang shouted at each other before she left the chamber again. As Chiang left, Cheng once again turned the flags upside down.

LegCo president Andrew Leung Kwan-yuen then ordered Cheng to return to his seat.

“You should not leave your seat and mess up the seats of other members,” he said.

Cheng disregarded the warning and was ordered to leave. Security guards in the chamber approached him to ask him to leave, though Cheng was not obliged to as the meeting was in recess.

Cheng Chung-tai
Cheng Chung-tai asked to leave the chamber. Photo: LegCo screenshot.

Cheng said on his Facebook account that he was responding to the walkout action. He said the action “raised the oath taking incident to a political struggle… [and] ignored Hong Kong people’s livelihood and interests.”

“What was funny was that the pro-Beijing camp installed Chinese and Hong Kong flags on their desks in order to make the Communist Party happy, but they left the chamber so easily, leaving the country behind, leaving only the president – who’s a British person – in the chamber,” he said.

“I am disappointed by such low and cheap patriotic acts, therefore I flipped the Hong Kong flags upside down on behalf of Hong Kong people to show my discontent,” he added.

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.