The government’s second-in-command has defended the pro-Beijing camp’s walkout that prevented two localist lawmakers from taking their oaths, saying the camp was “very united.” But the opposition has criticised the camp for having double standards when it comes to adjournments.
Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor on Sunday said that the government usually does not agree with actions causing premature adjournment of the legislature, but last week’s action was “different in nature” from past adjournments caused by the opposition.
“The nature of this action was that the lawmakers of the pro-Beijing camp were very united in using a ‘political means’ as described by [camp convenor] Martin Liao to prevent the two lawmakers – who they did not think had taken their oaths according to the law – from retaking their oaths and taking office as lawmakers,” she said. “[I] will leave it to society to judge whether it was appropriate.”
The pro-Beijing camp said it will use all possible means to stop Youngspiration’s Yau Wai-ching and Baggio Leung from retaking their oaths, including another walkout. Some deemed the changes they made to their oaths an insult to Chinese people and to China.
Lam also defended the government’s action to lodge a legal challenge to block LegCo president Andrew Leung Kwan-yuen from allowing Yau and Leung to retake their oaths. The court will hear the case on November 3. Some members of the pro-Beijing camp argued that the oath taking should not occur before the case is heard.
In order to prioritise a motion to debate whether the LegCo president has discretionary power to allow the Youngspiration duo to be sworn in again, the pro-Beijing camp can propose a request to suspend the order of business in LegCo as stated in Article 18 of the Rules of Procedure, lawmaker Regina Ip Lau Suk-yi said on Sunday.
Lam said she will not comment on or intervene in Andrew Leung’s arrangement of the LegCo agenda, but stated that the president has the power to rearrange the agenda.
She said the government will only submit bills to LegCo for consideration as early as late November.
“From now until early November, [premature adjournments] seemingly will not cause a big effect on the legislative work LegCo needs to conduct,” she said.
In response, Democratic Party lawmaker James To Kun-sun criticised Lam for using different standards in commenting on adjournment caused by different camps.
“The adjournments that she agrees with were understandable, but it was unacceptable that the democrats walked out to block the government’s draconian laws from being passed,” he told i-Cable channel. “It’s clearly a double standard.”
Dennis Kwok Wing-hang of the Civic Party, who is also vice-chairman of the House Committee, said LegCo has a lot of issues to discuss.
Opposition lawmakers proposed to investigate Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying over the controversial HK$50 million payment from Australian engineering firm UGL, but the item was delayed due to the walkout.
Ip said there was no harm done to livelihood issues even though the item was not discussed. “It will only be both sides spitting at each other,” she said.
“Two or three more adjournments will not have a big effect on livelihood issues.”