An administrative body of the Hong Kong Legislative Council has decided to issue a warning to pro-democracy lawmaker Ted Hui about a potential criminal offence, after he attempted to block security guards from exercising their duties. Hui has denied having such intentions.
Last Thursday, when guards removed lawmakers from a sit-in protest in the chamber, Hui was blocked by a guard from reaching out to lawmaker Ray Chan, who was being moved by four security guards. Hui was then pushed down by guards.
LegCo President Andrew Leung said Hui’s actions last week may violate the section 19(B) of the Legislative Council (Powers and Privileges) Ordinance, as he attempted to obstruct LegCo guards from exercising their duties and caused harm to them.
The pro-democracy camp was protesting proposed changes to the legislature’s house rules. Leung said on Tuesday that the LegCo Commission – a body formed mostly of pro-Beijing lawmakers – decided to send Hui a warning letter. Leung said there was no request made for police assistance.
Leung said he understood that the proposed rule changes were controversial but lawmakers should express opinions peacefully and not break laws because of “a moment of emotion.”
Changes to the Rules of Procedure have been proposed mostly by the pro-Beijing camp in order to curb filibustering by democrats. The pro-democracy camp does not have enough votes to block any modifications after six of its democratically-elected lawmakers were disqualified by a court following government legal action. The changes could rob them of power to block bills or form certain investigative committees.
Hui denied any intention to obstruct or assault guards.
“The LegCo Commission is controlled by the pro-Beijing camp. They can say whatever they like. None of these are facts. They are ridiculous smears,” he said.
He said that, if he did cause an offence, the pro-Beijing camp would have gone to the police immediately.
“I feel the message is not just for me – it is a warning to the whole pro-democracy camp that we should stop protesting in the meetings in the future,” he said. “The pro-Beijing camp is very scared that they cannot make changes to the rules.”
Pro-democracy demonstrators were removed by security guards and police officers from outside the legislature amid a protest over the change of rules on Monday night.
Leung said the rules of the LegCo demonstration area stated that no tents were allowed and that it is only open to the public until 11pm, thus the LegCo secretariat had to call the police.
Around 5o protesters were removed between midnight and 2am Tuesday.
Leung said the LegCo only has a limited number of guards and, if two or more groups of people clash with each other, the secretariat can seek police assistance.
On Monday, Leung announced the decision to host four additional meetings on Thursday, Friday, Saturday and next Monday so that the changes to the legislature’s rules could be handled before Christmas holidays.
Leung said the LegCo may ask for police assistance again if there is a breach of the security guidelines during the meetings.
He also limited visitors in the public gallery to ten.