Legislative Council President Andrew Leung has rejected a motion raised by pro-democracy lawmaker Ray Chan asking the legislature to hold a debate on the 80th anniversary of the Nanjing massacre.

Chan’s motion was one of three raised by the pro-democracy camp in an attempt to prevent the pro-Beijing camp from passing their amendments to curb filibustering. Leung suspended the meeting for an hour to look into the matter before he rejected all three motions.

Chan said his demand was of urgent public importance as the LegCo meeting was on the anniversary of the massacre, and the Japanese government has yet to apologise after decades. He said there were fewer than 100 survivors from the massacre left.

Ray Chan. Photo: In-Media.

According to China, 300,000 civilians and soldiers were killed after invading Japanese troops seized the city of Nanjing during the Sino-Japanese War.

“According to the rules, we do not need prior notice to raise it,” he said. “We democrats wore dark-coloured clothes today hoping to debate this issue.”

Andrew Leung said he already mourned the massacre on behalf of lawmakers at a memorial ceremony on Wednesday morning and the issue could be debated on another occasion.

In response, Chan said: “You should tell Xi Jinping that he should not commemorate it today… tell Hong Kong people, Chinese people and the country that changing the house rules is more urgent and more important than a debate on the 80th anniversary of the Nanjing massacre.”

‘Political tool’

Pro-Beijing lawmaker Jeffrey Lam said Chan should have attended the ceremony, as all lawmakers were invited: “He only wanted to hurt Hong Kong in the hopes that the Legislative Council will not be able to conduct meetings normally.”

Lam said he hoped the changes to the rules could be passed before the Christmas holidays.

Pro-Beijing lawmaker Elizabeth Quat said Chan should not use the massacre as a political tool: “I believe our country does not encourage hatred against the Japanese. [It] may not even want to seek responsibility, but only to remind people of the cruelty of war.”

But Chan said he had to attend a LegCo subcommittee meeting on Wednesday morning while others were at the ceremony: “Those who went to the ceremony can also support my demand for the debate.”

Nanjing massacre mourning ceremony in Hong Kong. Photo: GovHK.

The pro-democracy camp does not have enough votes to block amendments to the house rules after six of its democratically-elected lawmakers were disqualified by a court following government legal action.

Constitutional crisis debate

Lawmaker Eddie Chu raised a motion to suspend the current debate and instead debate the potential for a constitutional crisis posed by a proposed amendment to reduce the number of members needed for the “Committee of the whole council” stage of proceedings from 35 to 20.

The Basic Law stipulates that the quorum for the legislature’s weekly general meeting shall be no less than one half of all members, meaning 35 lawmakers must be present.

Despite previous legal advice given to LegCo against such an amendment, the president said the pro-Beijing camp also provided legal advice saying that the amendment may not necessarily be unconstitutional, but it was not certain whether or not this was the case.

Eddie Chu. Photo: In-Media.

Chu said a judicial review could be raised against the president’s decision to allow a debate and cause a constitutional crisis. He said the president and Starry Lee, pro-Beijing chair of the House Committee, should not join the debate on the matter because of their bias.

Democratic Party lawmaker Wu Chi-wai also raised an adjournment motion asking LegCo’s Committee on Rules of Procedure to reconsider the proposed changes.

Kris Cheng

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.