A House Committee meeting on Friday descended into chaos as lawmakers from opposing sides vied for control of the floor, with one democrat taken out on a stretcher by medics.
The meeting – which was set to begin at 2:30pm – saw legislators and security flock around incumbent chairperson Starry Lee from the pro-Beijing DAB party, as she attempted to make a start.
Citing legal advice, Legislative Council President Andrew Leung on Monday told reporters that Lee, as the chair of the last House Committee, had the power to deal with a backlog of legislative matters that had accumulated due to a months-long deadlock over the election of a new chair.
As incumbent Deputy Chair, Dennis Kwok of the pro-democracy Civic Party has presided over House Committee meetings since October 15 last year. Lee has not taken on the mantle of presiding member because she is running for chair again.
Beijing has accused Kwok and opposition lawmakers of filibustering to delay the election of a new chair.
The Hong Kong government has also pushed for a resolution, with Chief Executive Carrie Lam adding that some issues, including the controversial National Anthem bill, were only “one step away” from completion. The proposed law would penalise deliberate alterations to the anthem and derogatory performances.
Legislators encircled the DAB head as she assumed her seat, with democrats chanting “Starry Lee has acted outside her powers” and “Starry Lee has seized power.” Some tried to push past security as others live-streamed from their phones.
Pro-democracy lawmaker Eddie Chiu attempted to climb past security guards and Ray Chan of People Power ran around as he tried to infiltrate the line of personnel.
Lee proceeded to eject Chiu, Ray Chan of People Power, Andrew Wan of the Democratic Party, Ted Hui of the Democratic Party, Alvin Yeung of the Civic Party, Jeremy Tam of the Civic Party, followed by Helena Wong of the Democratic Party later.
Wan appeared to sustain an injury during his expulsion. He sat on the floor of the meeting room for a period of time before paramedics took him away.
Federation of Trade Unions lawmaker Kwok Wai-keung was seen trying to drag Chan out by his collar.
“I have not seized power. I am the incumbent chairperson of the house committee… I do hope we can conduct the meeting smoothly so the legal advisor can explain the legal issues,” Lee told the committee.
Labour Party chair Kwok Wing-kin later tossed torn pages from the LegCo Rules of Procedure from the viewing gallery onto the meeting room below. One of the security guards attempting to remove Kwok fell during a tussle and appeared to hit his head.
UK NGO Hong Kong Watch said that rules should not be re-written to “bulldoze” legislation into being: “The current logjam in LegCo is a direct result of a broken system where the only strategy that the democrats have, despite representing the majority, is filibustering. Political reform and the transition towards universal suffrage is the best pathway towards reconciliation,” it said in a tweet.
Friday’s scenes echoed similar clashes at a committee meeting to scrutinise a controversial extradition bill last May, where rival camps argued over who would assume duties of the presiding member.
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