Legislative Council President Andrew Leung has rejected lawmakers’ requests to hold urgent Q&A sessions over two major incidents taking place this month.

Six lawmakers from both the pro-Beijing and the pro-democracy camps asked Leung for permission to ask questions of government officials on Wednesday over last week’s escalator accident in Mong Kok, and an import ban on Brazil chicken meat.

Andrew Leung. File Photo: Stanley Leung/HKFP.

The accident involved an escalator at Langham Place in Mong Kok which suddenly reversed, leaving at least 17 injured. The Democratic Party lawmaker Kwong Chun-yu wanted the government to answer questions about its safety oversight system of the city’s escalators.

Meanwhile, in response to a recent import ban on Brazil chicken meat, five lawmakers sought explanations from the government over a variety of issues, ranging from its import tracking system to measures ensuring school canteens will discard the banned meat.

collapse incident accident

‘Not urgent’

Leung informed the lawmakers on Tuesday of his decision to reject their requests, on the basis that the matters were not of “an urgent character” in accordance with the LegCo’s Rules of Procedure.

“Even if you pursue the issues in future sessions, the meaningfulness of your questions will not be deprived,” the legislature’s clerk said on Leung’s behalf in a written reply to the lawmakers.

Under section 24(4) of the Rules of Procedure, the legislature’s president may permit lawmakers to ask questions without notice if the issues are of “an urgent character” and of “public importance.”

If Leung had approved the requests, government officials would have been asked to attend Wednesday’s sessions at the legislature to answer lawmakers’ questions over the two cases.

legco chamber
The LegCo chamber. File Photo: HKFP.

He previously rejected similar requests over the MTR firebomb attack that occurred last month. The incident left 19 people injured.

Leung has been criticised for his relatively hardline approach. Lawmaker Paul Tse Wai-chun previously described Leung as being unwilling to accept different opinions, and said a more tolerant president is needed for cultivating a democratic culture within the legislature.

He stands in contrast with his predecessor Jasper Tsang, who enjoyed high popularity ratings during his presidency at the legislature. Tsang remains a popular politician in the city.

Leung is an industrial (first) sector lawmaker and former leader of the pro-business party Business and Professionals Alliance for Hong Kong.

Ellie Ng has written for Foreign Policy, the Daily Telegraph, Global Voices Online and others.