'Long Hair' to keep Legco seat

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 24 March, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 24 March, 2012, 12:00am

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Lawmaker 'Long Hair' Leung Kwok-hung gets to keep his Legislative Council seat for now, with the House Committee voting down a motion to launch an impeachment bid over a two-month jail sentence he received this week.

However, Leung (pictured) may still face an impeachment motion if a lawmaker tables one at the council's general meeting, as allowed under Legco's rules of procedure.

The chairman of the League of Social Democrats was sentenced to jail on Tuesday for his role in disrupting a September public forum on a proposal to scrap Legco by-elections.

According to the Basic Law, a lawmaker jailed for more than one month can be stripped of his seat if a two-thirds majority in Legco supports impeachment.

Yesterday, after a two-hour debate, lawmakers on the house committee voted 18 to 16 against the motion that committee chairwoman Miriam Lau Kin-yee invoke the impeachment bid on the committee's behalf.

Those opposed to the motion - mainly pan-democrats - said Leung should not be impeached because he was standing up for public interest at the forum.

'Scrapping by-elections is unjust in nature. 'Long Hair' merely spoke out for the public,' Labour Party chairman Lee Cheuk-yan said.

'Whether he should be stripped of his duties as a legislator should be decided by voters in an election.'

The Democratic Party, Civic Party and the radical faction of pan-democrats also opposed the motion.

Legal sector lawmaker Margaret Ng Ngoi-yee said the nature and seriousness of Leung's offence differed from a precedent involving Chim Pui-chung in 1998.

Chim lost his seat as financial services legislator after he was sentenced to three years in jail for plotting to forge share transfer documents. The jail term was cut to 12 months upon appeal. He was voted back into Legco in 2004. Ng said Chim's offence involved his integrity and his jail term was longer.

But pro-establishment lawmakers said an impeachment bid should be invoked to maintain consistent treatment of lawmakers.

Paul Tse Wai-chun, who moved the motion, said Legco should at least get the impeachment procedure going so lawmakers could debate the matter comprehensively. Tse said he would oppose the bid if it was put to a vote in a council meeting. Sophie Leung Lau Yau-fun, of the textiles and garment sector, said: 'It would give the public the wrong impression that we treat lawmakers differently if we failed to even raise a debate [on impeachment].'

Some asked whether an impeachment bid should be discussed at this stage. Leung has said he will apply for a review of his sentence, and if that fails, apply for a speedy appeal.

Leung, who is on bail, said he was not concerned about impeachment. 'It's all about a political fight. Some of the lawmakers are mandated to kick me out of Legco.'

An earlier count found that at least 16 lawmakers said they would not back an impeachment motion.