Pro-Beijing lawmaker Ma Fung-kwok has denied trying to bypass airport security rules using his legislator status following an incident at the Hong Kong International Airport.
While en route to a film event in Beijing on Monday, Ma attempted to bring a 200g bottle of hair gel into the restricted area, which exceeded the 100ml liquid allowance. During the incident, he mentioned that he was a lawmaker. He was eventually allowed to bring the bottle onboard.
According to an anonymous complaint submitted to Apple Daily, airport security staff asked Ma to throw away the hair gel or put it in his cabin baggage, but Ma refused. The complainant accused Ma of pressuring staff by saying he is a lawmaker, and added that Ma asked to talk to management and claimed to know Airport Authority CEO Fred Lam.
Airport rules state that all liquids, gels, aerosols in cabin baggage must be carried in containers with a capacity not greater than 100ml. Liquids, gels, aerosols carried in containers larger than 100ml will not be accepted, even if the container is only partially filled.
In response, Ma apologised to airport security staff for any inconvenience he may have caused, and added that he would comply with security guidelines in the future.
Ma said when airport staff members told him that any container with a capacity larger than 100ml will not be permitted, he replied that this did not accord with his understanding of the rules and asked the staff to further explain how his hair gel would harm airport security.
Ma denied that he pressured staff with his status and said he only mentioned he was a lawmaker as he was concerned about airport security measures.
He admitted arguing with airport staff as he believed that his partially-full bottle contained less than 100ml of liquid.
Speaking to reporters on Thursday, he said: “I did not intentionally reveal my lawmaker status, I just wanted to express my concerns over airport security.”
Ma also denied using Fred Lam to pressure staff. He said he mentioned Lam’s name because the second staff member who spoke to him claimed to be the highest ranking airport official, so Ma corrected him.
Ma said he was allowed to take the hair gel after it was examined by a third staff member handling the incident.
The airport security company AVSECO said staff members did not follow relevant security procedures and it has launched a disciplinary investigation.
Civic Party lawmaker Jeremy Tam, who is also an airplane pilot, said the rule was a clear international rule, and Ma should not have argued with staff members.
Tam said Ma may have violated Airport Authority Bylaw session 18 on obstructing officers: “Could normal passengers say what he said? If they do, they may be arrested.”
He said he was surprised that a pro-Beijing camp member tried to bypass airport security rules after the “bag-gate” incident involving former chief executive Leung Chun-ying, who allegedly used his power to help his daughter bypass airport security rules.
“No one should have any special privilege,” Tam said. “To put it strictly, he does not have such special privileges at all.”
“[The pro-Beijing camp] often talks about doing things and governing Hong Kong in accordance with the law – but they are the first ones to break laws.”