Legislative Council elections 2016

In at the deep end for newly elected Legco president

Andrew Leung, who only took office last week, has already dealt with walkouts and chaos in the Legislative Council chamber

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 26 October, 2016, 9:23pm
UPDATED : Wednesday, 26 October, 2016, 11:30pm

Andrew Leung Kwan-yuen, the man in the hottest Legislative Council seat, is playing out the role of tragic hero over the oath-taking saga.

A week after he was hailed by the opposition camp for safeguarding the legislature’s dignity by putting himself at odds with the government to support the rights of the two Youngspiration lawmakers to retake their oaths, Leung now faces pan-democrat calls for his resignation over what they say his “failure” to conduct council meetings.

Pan-democratic lawmakers said on Wednesday that they would send an open letter to Leung, who is from pro-establishment party the Business and Professionals Alliance, asking him to resign as council president.

Raymond Chan Chi-chuen, of radical People Power, said Wednesday’s adjournment of the council meeting showed Leung “has no ability, no determination” to conduct its proceedings.

The Democratic Party’s James To Kun-sun added: “He does not even meet the minimal competence level to be the president.”

Legco drama rages on: meeting adjourned after Hong Kong localists enter to defy oaths ban

Leung admitted he was forced to adjourn Wednesday’s meeting because his order for the Youngspiration duo to leave the chamber was unheeded.

The pair defied Leung’s ban and forced their way into the chamber with the help of some pan-democrats, triggering mayhem.

“I already announced the decision [on Tuesday] to delay the oath-taking process of the two lawmakers and they refused to leave even upon my order,” he said. “I had no choice but to adjourn the meeting as its order could not be restored.”

When asked if he was capable of holding the meeting as the Legco chief, Leung said the meeting’s order counted on the collaboration of 69 lawmakers.

“It would not make a difference, no matter who the president is, if the lawmakers are not willing to work together.”

Having only taken over as Legco president last week, Leung also had to handle a walkout staged by his own pro-establishment colleagues as they opposed his decision to allow the Youngspiration pair to retake the oaths of office they controversially modified by using the derogatory word “Chee-na” at the council’s October 12 ­sitting.

The government is challenging his decision in court as it seeks to have the pair kicked out of Legco, sparking concerns about the executive branch allegedly “interfering” with the legislature.

On Tuesday, Leung reversed his decision and deferred the swearing-in of the Youngspiration duo, citing it as a reason that the threat of a boycott “at all costs” by his fellow pro-government camp colleagues.

Explained: walkouts and oath-taking controversy at start of Legco term

Michael Tien Puk-sun, of the New People’s Party who had expressed interest in contesting in the Legco president race, described Leung as being “in the wrong place at the wrong time”.

“But his remarks about the deferral of oath-taking was because of pressure from the pro-establishment camp is giving ammunition to the pan-democrats,” said Tien. “The pan-democrats will of course jump out to oppose you.”

Asked if what he would do if he were the Legco president, Tien said he would probably have disallowed the retaking of the oath. “On such a controversial topic with grave political consequences, how could you have made a ruling so lightly without thorough consideration?”

Paul Tse, a non-affiliated pro-establishment legislator who had also indicated interest in contesting in the Legco president race, was more sympathetic. “There is certainly much room for improvement in Leung’s handling of the saga. But there is a lack of trust between the two camps, it is a very difficult job, whoever the president is.”

A pro-establishment camp lawmaker, who declined to be named, said Leung was a “smart guy”. “It took him much effort to climb up the political ladder to become the Legco head, he would unlikely surrender it easily.”