Protesters could be banned from Legco complex: Jasper Tsang
Legco president Jasper Tsang warns protesters there could be legal consequences for storming complex as lawmakers demand tighter security
People who stormed the legislative building on Friday in a protest that left five security guards injured could be banned from the complex, the Legislative Council president said.
Jasper Tsang Yok-sing's comments came as more than 30 Beijing-loyalist lawmakers put forward a motion demanding tighter security and an investigation of whether the protesters, who were fighting plans for new towns in the New Territories, should be held criminally liable.
The Legco Commission is due to discuss the handling of the protests today. It will examine security camera footage to determine whether there is enough evidence for legal action.
Tsang, who chairs the commission, reiterated yesterday that protesting within the Legco building in Tamar, Admiralty, was not acceptable. But he said only those who attempted to disrupt proceedings of the Finance Committee, which was discussing a funding request for preliminary work on the new town plans, should be banned.
"Some of the protesters were elderly people," Tsang said. "We did not ask them not to do anything and they were not uncooperative. So it is not fair that all those who entered the premises to protest should be banned.
"The Legco complex … is not a fortress. It is not designed to keep people out. It is designed to welcome people in," Tsang said.
"We are willing to allow people in … with the highest degree of tolerance as long as we can ensure that members can carry on proceedings in an efficient way.
"But in cases where some people entering the premises obviously aim to stir up trouble and disrupt order, we may have to consider further measures," Tsang added.
The protesters on Friday included elderly people and others who will lose their homes if the government presses ahead with its HK$120 billion plan for new towns in Kwu Tung and Fanling North.
They were joined by members of campaign group Civic Passion, who were criticised by some villagers for turning a peaceful sit-in ugly by pushing their way into the building.
Scuffles broke out and at least five security guards were injured. Police had to be called in to maintain order. No one was arrested and protesters eventually left, but some allegedly threatened to return and storm the building again unless the government scrapped the new town plans.
Commission member and Civic Party lawmaker Ronny Tong Ka-wah said pan-democrats agreed protests should not be allowed inside the building but said banning the protesters would be going too far.
Meanwhile, Tsang told a Public Administration Association lunch of the importance of a democratic election for chief executive in 2017.
And Tsang, who briefly flirted with a run for chief executive in 2012 and has occasionally been tipped as a possible 2017 hopeful, was asked about the performance of incumbent Leung Chun-ying.
"Mr Leung once said that first-class talent would enter the business world; only third-class people would want to enter politics. I am glad that Mr Leung has proved himself wrong," Tsang quipped.