The Legislative Council meeting on the controversial national anthem bill was suspended on Thursday morning after a pro-democracy lawmaker threw a rotten plant towards the president’s seat.

Democratic Party legislator Ted Hui dropped a bag containing a brownish fetid substance in front of LegCo President Andrew Leung. The drama occurred during a meeting that was set to include a second reading of the proposed law which would criminalise insulting the national anthem March of the Volunteers.

Ted Hui
Ted Hui being stopped by Legislative Council security guard. Photo: via CC 2.0.

Leung expelled Hui from the chamber and suspended the meeting, as cleaners tidied up the scene. Police and firemen arrived minutes later to inspect the situation and urged people to vacate, citing concerns over potential poisonous gases.

Hui told reporters outside the chamber that the object he brought was a decayed potted plant from two days ago. He said he wanted to protest against what he saw as an abuse of power by Leung, who ordered two opposition lawmakers to leave the meeting earlier.

Ted hui rotten plant
Photo: iCable News screenshot.

Hui added he wanted Leung to “feel the taste of the rotten system,” but the bag was knocked over as security guards stopped the democrat from advancing.

Pro-Beijing legislator Rebecca Chan was sent to a hospital after she felt nauseated by the strong-smelling object Hui had thrown, according to DAB’s Elizabeth Quat on Facebook. Quat slammed Hui’s action as “mad,” while stating that police must arrest him.

Legislative Council
Legislative Council staff clean up the chamber. Photo: via CC 2.0

The debate on the anthem bill was disrupted a few other times during the morning as Leung ejected democrat Eddie Chu who put up a placard that read “Best chairperson Starry Lee.” Leung said the sign was offensive and sarcastic towards the pro-Beijing party leader, who was elected as the House Committee chairperson last Monday amid a row over the committee’s months-long impasse.

Pro-democracy lawmakers – who have refused to recognise the election results – were dissatisfied with Leung’s ruling. People Power’s Ray Chan walked away from his seat to rebuke the LegCo president, who warned Chan that his action would be seen as “grossly disorderly.” Chan was later taken away by security guards as Leung paused the meeting.

The national anthem bill, if passed, would punish anyone found guilty by a fine of up to HK$50,000 and three years in prison. Critics have said it is a threat to freedom of expression in Hong Kong and amounts to an increasing encroachment by Beijing.

Eddie Chu
Lawmaker Eddie Chu holding a sign that reads “Best chairperson Starry Lee.” Photo: RTHK screenshot.

On Wednesday, opposition lawmakers including Civic Party’s Tanya Chan and Dennis Kwok submitted motions to adjourn the council meeting as part of their tactics to delay the passing of the controversial draft legislation. Their motions were denied by the LegCo president.

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Outside of the legislature, more than 360 people were arrested on Wednesday as demonstrations against the national anthem bill took place in Causeway Bay, Central, Wan Chai and Mong Kok.

The legislature is set to vote on the proposed law on June 4.

Ho Long Sze Kelly is a Hong Kong-based journalist covering politics, criminal justice, human rights, social welfare and education. As a Senior Reporter at Hong Kong Free Press, she has covered the aftermath of the 2019 extradition bill protests and the Covid-19 pandemic extensively, as well as documented the transformation of her home city under the Beijing-imposed national security law.

Kelly has a bachelor's degree in Journalism from the University of Hong Kong, with a second major in Politics and Public Administration. Prior to joining HKFP in 2020, she was on the frontlines covering the 2019 citywide unrest for South China Morning Post’s Young Post. She also covered sports and youth-related issues.