Pro-democracy lawmaker “Long Hair” Leung Kwok-hung has been charged after he “disturbed” legislative proceedings by taking files from a top Hong Kong government official during a meeting last November.

On November 15, Leung took a folder placed on a bench by then-under secretary for development Eric Ma. He was criticising Ma for not presenting documents relating to a case where a government consultant used restricted government data without authorisation. He then passed the folder to fellow pro-democracy lawmaker Eddie Chu for examination.

Leung Kwok-hung. Photo: HKFP/Catherine Lai.

The official subsequently filed a police report two days later, “in view of the seriousness of the incident.”

Leung told reporters at the legislature on Thursday afternoon that he received a police summons, accusing him of violating the “contempt” provision within the Legislative Council (Powers and Privileges) Ordinance. The provision criminalises the creation of, or participation in, any disturbance which interrupts or is likely to interrupt the proceedings of the Legislative Council.

Leung has been asked to attend a hearing at the Eastern Magistrates’ Court on June 12. Convicted offenders could be punished with a fine of HK$10,000 and imprisonment for 12 months.

‘So ridiculous’ 

“I have never heard anything so ridiculous,” said Leung. “Government officials are guests [at the Legislative Council], and they are interfering with our proceedings.”

Leung said it was the first time he had faced such a charge, and added that government officials could theoretically use the provision to charge anyone who shouts inside the Legislative Council.

See also: Top official makes police report after lawmaker ‘Long Hair’ took files from him at LegCo

He said that Ma did not ask the president of the legislature to do anything at the time of the incident. However, Leung was subsequently kicked out of the meeting.

Ma told reporters at the legislature that he would not comment as court proceedings have begun.

Eric Ma Siu-cheung. Photo: LegCo.

The meeting in which the incident took place related to the controversy over the government’s plans to build public housing after demolishing three villages in Wang Chau, New Territories.

The government initially planned to build housing on a nearby storage facility owned by a rural leader, but the plans changed after closed-door lobbying meetings in which no records were kept.

See also: The defence of Wang Chau: Barricades are up, but villagers still hope for talks

During the incident, Ove Arup & Partners (Arup), a subsidiary of British engineering firm Arup Group, was caught using restricted government data without authorisation. Arup was suspended from participating in government tenders for three months as punishment.

Despite opposition from the pro-democracy camp, the legislature passed funding for the redevelopment of Wang Chau in March. In early May, the Lands Department put up notices in the villages informing the 200 residents of their impending evictions.

Elson Tong

Elson Tong is a graduate of international relations and former investigations consultant. He has also written for Stand News.