Time for Legco radicals to grow up

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 24 May, 2014, 3:10am
UPDATED : Saturday, 24 May, 2014, 3:10am

If school students shouted down an invited guest in the classroom, threw food and refused to budge when ordered to leave, there would most likely be a parental summons followed by immediate suspension, if not expulsion. The Legislative Council is not a school. But many people would see a classroom analogy in the disruption of proceedings by radical lawmakers during a visit by Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying this week. This time it was several blameless lawmakers who suffered the consequences through missing their opportunity to question Leung.

For the first time, the Legco president suspended a chief executive's question-and-answer session to restore order, before finally cutting short the session. Tsang Yok-sing first ordered the removal of independent pan-democrat Wong Yuk-man for hurling insults, and then expelled People Power lawmakers Albert Chan Wai-yip, who hurled a bun in Leung's direction, and Raymond Chan Chi-chuen, and the League of Social Democrats' "Long Hair" Leung Kwok-hung. During a 15-minute suspension, "Long Hair" refused to leave.

To be sure, Leung Chun-ying provoked trouble by condemning radical lawmakers for their filibustering during the budget bill debate. After all, it is their maverick streak that appeals to many of the voters who put them in Legco. Like it or not, as long as so many trade-based, loyalist lawmakers fail to trouble the government with serious scrutiny, mavericks have a role to fill in holding officials and bureaucrats to account. For that very reason these mavericks should not diminish their role by overplaying it. Sadly, many people would empathise with the chief executive's description of the radicals as uncivilised.

The actions of Leung Kwok-hung and his fellow radicals send the wrong message to our younger generation about tolerance of unruly behaviour. Officials should also avoid trading insults with lawmakers. What we need is civilised debate and respect for each other's opinion. To extend the classroom analogy, "Long Hair" should set a good example by acknowledging it is time to grow up.