Protests erupted during Chief Executive Carrie Lam’s Q&A session at the legislature on Thursday over labour and welfare issues, education, as well as Hong Kong’s autonomy.
Pro-democracy lawmakers did not chant slogans as they did on Wednesday, when Lam read out parts of her first policy address.
“Long Hair” Leung Kwok-hung of the League of Social Democrats, heckled Lam as she entered the chamber. Leung was one of the six lawmakers disqualified by a court after a government legal bid to oust him – however, he returned to the public gallery at the Legislative Council as a private citizen.
He shouted “shame on Carrie Lam” and “shame on stealing from the poor to give to the rich,” demanding that Lam implement standard working hours for citizens, and a universal pension scheme.
LegCo President Andrew Leung ordered security guards to remove him.
People Power lawmaker Ray Chan was also asked to leave after he staged a protest over Hong Kong’s denial of entry to British human rights activist Benedict Rogers.
Rogers was turned away by Immigration officials on Wednesday morning. He said that the incident was a result of Beijing’s interference in Hong Kong, as the Chinese embassy in London had warned him through an intermediary that he should not visit jailed activists in Hong Kong, and he would be barred from entry.
Asked on a joint radio programme on Thursday if Rogers was barred because the Chinese government did not wish for him to enter, Lam said that – under the Basic Law – Hong Kong’s foreign affairs are governed by the Central government. She said she could not comment on the details though the matter would depend on whether the immigration incident involved foreign affairs.
Later on during the Q&A session, Civic Party lawmaker Kwok Ka-ki accused Lam of trying to win popularity with a new public transport subsidy scheme – with a view to introducing politically controversial policies further down the line.
The government has pledged to provide 25 per cent of transport expenses over HK$400, subject to a cap of HK$300.
Lam denied she was seeking to buy popularity: “You are underestimating Hong Kong people’s wisdom, if you believe – after providing such considerate care – that the government can implement any policy that the public does not wish for.”
Kwok said a member of the public asked him to give HK$300 back to Lam: “They want true ‘One Country, Two Systems,’ true democracy and true universal suffrage.”
Lam jokingly replied: “I think that’s bribery. There’s a suspected case of bribery, president.”
Kwok left his seat and walked towards Lam in an effort to hand three bank notes to her. But he was halted by security.
As Lam exited the chamber, social welfare sector lawmaker Shiu Ka-chun stood up holding a cross, asking Lam: “Students have died. What is the price of a life? What is the price for 72 lives?”
Over the past two years, 72 students have committed suicide, including two on Thursday.