Hong Kong’s Legislative Council (LegCo) President Andrew Leung has said the legislature faced many “unprecedented problems” over the past four years as the sixth term ended on Friday.
Leung described the term as a “roller coaster ride” as he observed changes in the relationship between the legislative and executive bodies. He said during the term of former chief executive Leung Chun-ying, the two branches had a “taut” relationship.
When incumbent leader Carrie Lam took office in 2017, there was a brief “honeymoon period” that took a turn for the worse when the government introduced controversial bills, he said.
“The relationship between the executive and legislative branches depends on the larger political climate. Sometimes the environment is very good, and sometimes it drops to a low ebb or an even lower point.”
He cited unprecedented incidents, including the disqualification of six pro-democracy lawmakers in connection with the 2016 oath-taking controversy. He also mentioned two former legislators – Gary Fan and Au Nok-hin – who were unseated after a court ruled them unduly elected in a by-election in March 2018.
The legislature lost more than 200 meeting hours after the building was stormed and vandalised during the anti-extradition bill protests last July, Leung said. Some meetings were cancelled because of the coronavirus pandemic, and some time was lost when Leung took breaks and there was no deputy president to take his place due to a delay in electing the House Committee chairperson.
The council passed a total of 73 bills out of the 90 tabled. The LegCo president said a record 25 lawmakers were ejected from the council a total of 97 times during the term for “grossly disorderly conduct.”
Asked about criticism from pro-democracy lawmakers, who have refused to address him as the president, Leung said he fulfilled his duties fairly and had no regrets. He added he would decide whether to run in the September election in the coming days.
Responding to HKFP’s question, Leung said he could not comment on criticism of opposition legislators from China’s offices, or its implications on the relationship between Beijing and the local legislature, adding it was up to individual lawmakers to respond.
He advised future lawmakers to foster a relationship with the central government despite their political differences.
“It is still strongly advisable to have a relationship or linkage or a way to communicate with the central government so that your own views can be transmitted to the central government directly.”
In April, China’s Liaison Office in Hong Kong and the Hong Kong and Macau Affairs Office (HKMAO) launched a rare attack against the city’s opposition lawmakers, accusing them of “malicious filibustering” and said they were guilty of misconduct in public office amid the row over the House Committee chair election.