Pro-democracy lawmakers chanting “political censorship” and “shame” in the legislature brought Chief Executive Carrie Lam’s question and answer session to a standstill on Wednesday.
The democrats causing the disruption were ejected from the chamber in what was the first instance of such a session being cut short due to protests.
The democrats were reacting to lawmaker Eddie Chu‘s ban from a village election in Yuen Kong San Tsuen, a village of around 100 constituents in Pat Heung, Yuen Long.
On Sunday, Chu was banned from running over his political views. He is the first person to have been disqualified from a village representative election for this reason.
Members of the pro-Beijing camp have since suggested Chu be stripped of his role as lawmaker, though the government has said that it has “no plan” to take this measure.
“We want to tell the pro-Beijing camp: We will not beg for our right to political participation – it should be ours,” said Chu on Wednesday, thanking democrats for their support. He took part in the protests alongside Claudia Mo and Ray Chan.
The protesters interrupted Lam as she attempted to hold her 30-minute monthly question and answer session.
The president of the legislative council, Andrew Leung, demanded lawmakers stop chanting, but his calls fell on deaf ears. He then demanded Claudia Mo, Ray Chan and Eddie Chu leave the chamber, though they kept protesting, forcing Leung to suspend the meeting.
Mo, Chan and Chu were then removed by security guards. Lam came back to the chamber 15 minutes later as remaining democrats continued to chant slogans.
Leung then decided to end the session: “Because many lawmakers are still chanting, the chief executive question and answers cannot be conducted today.”
‘Unfortunate and regrettable’
Lam left the legislature and then attended the opening ceremony of the Hong Kong News-Expo, where she said that the incident was unfortunate and regrettable: “I hope the next question and answer session at the Legislative Council can be held smoothly,” she said.
Civic Party lawmaker Kwok Ka-ki said Leung had been stricter than usual in kicking out lawmakers from the chamber.
“Maybe he wanted to protect Carrie Lam too badly,” he said. “Andrew Leung kicking lawmakers out of the chamber at will is the real reason behind failed meetings.”
Federation of Trade Unions lawmaker Wong Kwok-kin said his party was very angry about the situation and would urge the legislature to increase punishments for ejected lawmakers.
“We thought we didn’t have to rush [the process of increasing punishments]. But this political show today tells us that some people have no self-restraint. We are forced to do so,” he said.