The pro-Beijing camp has made a police report over scenes of disruption which unfolded at a legislative meeting on Thursday, alleging that pro-democracy lawmakers broke the Legislative Council (Powers and Privileges) Ordinance.

Democratic Party lawmaker Ted Hui was ordered by LegCo President Andrew Leung to leave the chamber following a protest, but the pro-democracy camp protected him, instead of returning to their seats. The meeting was eventually adjourned prematurely, as Leung deemed it could not carry on.

Pro-Beijing lawmaker Elizabeth Quat, of the Democratic Alliance for the Betterment and Progress of Hong Kong (DAB), said the pro-democracy camp’s actions may have violated the Ordinance’s sections 17(c) and 19(b) on contempt and interference.

Ted Hui
Ted Hui protected by pro-democracy lawmakers.

“We believed the opposition camp lawmakers intentionally caused trouble, [and] seriously harmed the operations of the Legislative Council,” she said. “This is not the first time – and it may become their usual means to stop the legislature from operating.”

“Such actions – suspected of breaking the law – can no longer be tolerated and accepted. Thus we decided to report it to the police to ask for a serious investigation.”

Quat said she will report the case, but will not report any particular person.

‘Criminal charges’

Lawmaker Junius Ho said that lawmakers have freedom of speech, but their actions were not free from criminal charges.

“Of course, if there is any crime happening anywhere in Hong Kong, there’s no such situation whereby a certain kind of act should be exempted from any criminal investigation and prosecution,” he said.

Pro-Beijing camp lawmakers
Pro-Beijing camp lawmakers. Photo: Screenshot.

Alice Mak, of the Federation of Trade Unions, said they were not asking the police to interfere with the operations of the legislature, but were asking the police to execute the relevant laws.

DAB lawmaker Ann Chiang said the camp notified its lawmakers on Friday morning, and nobody raised objections. She said she did not know President Andrew Leung’s stance, but believed he would support it.

But pro-Beijing lawmaker Regina Ip said that she was not certain whether the provisions in the Ordinance could be used against lawmakers, since the Ordinance was targeting the public disrupting meetings.

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Ted Hui said he believed the incident on Thursday incident was simply a common matter at the legislature.

“If the pro-Beijing camp believes such conflicts cannot be handled, and have to be resolved through criminal law and the police, it just shows that the pro-Beijing camp is making a fuss,” he said.

Legal sector lawmaker Dennis Kwok said the involvement of police amounted to an abuse of the ordinance, and that such measures should only be used on actual criminal occasions, such as assault occurring at the legislature.

“If I have a disagreement with the president… and he says I am disrupting the meeting because I did not obey his order to leave or sit down – am I violating the ordinance? In terms of how the law is written, maybe. But it is obvious that the law should not be used like this. We have to understand the law’s history and the meaning behind it,” he said.

Pro-Beijing camp lawmakers
Pro-Beijing camp lawmakers on Thursday. Photo: Kris Cheng/HKFP.

Section 17(c) states that any person who creates, or joins, any disturbance which interrupts – or is likely to interrupt the proceedings of the Council or a committee, commits an offence and is liable to a fine of HK$10,000 and imprisonment for a year.

Section 19(b) states that any person who assaults, interferes with, molests, resists or obstructs any officer of the Council while in the execution of his duty commits an offence and is liable to a fine of HK$10,000 and to imprisonment for  a year.

Previously, “Long Hair” Leung Kwok-hung – then a pro-democracy lawmaker – was charged by the police, after he took several documents from a Hong Kong government official at a legislative meeting last year. He was also accused of violating the “contempt” provision within the Legislative Council (Powers and Privileges) Ordinance.

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.