Scuffle in Legco as lawmaker grabs papers
Firebrand lawmaker Wong Yuk-man had to be physically restrained in the Legislative Council chamber yesterday after he lost his temper over the government's controversial plan to scrap by-elections.
The People Power legislator was blocked by security guards after he tried to grab papers in front of Secretary for Constitutional and Mainland Affairs Stephen Lam Sui-lung in what Wong called a protest to 'defy the rudest legislation in history'.
Wong became furious during the first and second readings of the proposal to fill Legco midterm vacancies by installing the next best-placed candidate.
The radical pan-democrat lawmaker leapt from his seat as Lam spoke and made a dash for the minister. Shouting 'shameless' to Lam, he was blocked by guards when he was less than a metre from the minister. He was immediately expelled by acting Legco president Miriam Lau Kin-yee.
'The government has never consulted the public on such a controversial constitutional move. Never has the legislation process for a bill been so swift,' Wong said.
Under the plan, any Legco vacancy arising from a resignation, death or incapacitation would be filled by the highest-ranked candidate not elected. At present, a by-election would be held to fill such a vacancy.
The proposal stems from the resignation of five Civic Party and League of Social Democrats lawmakers, triggering a by-election in May last year in a move they saw as a de facto referendum on political reform.
The government said the by-election cost of HK$126 million was unnecessary and the low 17.1 per cent turnout rate suggested a lack of public support.
Wong said: 'I cannot see why there is urgency for legislation on this proposal and why a lack of public consultation is justified.'
Legco will hold a public hearing on June 18, followed by a third reading and it is expected to pass.
Meanwhile, academics are urging the government to withdraw the plan. Dickson Sing Ming, a political scientist with the University of Science and Technology, said 18 academics signed a petition in less than a day, suggesting strong opposition to the plan. 'Scrapping by-elections amounts to killing the democratic movement, taking away citizens' rights to vote,' he said.