Youngspiration duo increasingly isolated by pan-democratic allies, as antics cause harm and chaos
Some lawmakers rue supporting localists Yau Wai-ching and Sixtus Baggio Leung Chung-hang, with the growing ‘political price’ of their actions
The two localists at the centre of the oath-taking row found themselves facing increasing isolation among lawmakers on Wednesday after the pair forcibly stormed the Legislative Council’s conference room without warning in scenes of chaos that left six security guards injured.
A number of pan-democratic lawmakers who had previously been supportive of the pair said they regretted the violent clashes, with some arguing the Youngspiration duo had achieved nothing.
Last Wednesday, Yau Wai-ching and Sixtus Baggio Leung Chung-hang were banned by Legco president Andrew Leung Kwan-yuen from attending council meetings until officially sworn in, after they spoiled their oaths of office on October 12 with remarks about China deemed offensive.
But in defiance of the ban they stormed the chamber last week with the help of a human chain formed by eight pan-democrats.
The number of lawmakers helping them stage a similar move yesterday had apparently shrunk, leaving only a few core backers which included independent Eddie Chu Hoi-dick and student-turned-legislator Nathan Law Kwun-chung.
In anticipation of trouble yesterday, the Legco president announced a move of the meeting from the main chamber to a conference room on the second floor of the building.
But minutes before the session the pair made a promise in front of cameras that they would not forcibly enter the venue for fear of causing injury.
That promise soon turned to dust however.
“Don’t block us, you aunties!” those supporting the pair shouted as they made their way past female security guards who were trying to block the localist lawmakers entering the room.
The group counted “one, two”, before trying to barge inside while hurling obscenities.
A team of police officers arrived in the legislature upon Andrew Leung’s request after six security guards were hurt in the mayhem. Last night five had been discharged from hospital, while the other was due to stay in overnight for further observation.
The stand-off prompted angry pro-establishment lawmakers to call an urgent meeting of the Legislative Council Commission to evaluate security measures, with some suggesting tightening the access entitlements of legislators’ assistants, some of whom helped the pair with their forced entry.
The Democratic Party, Civic Party and Professionals Guild – an alliance of legislators formed by seven pan-democrats – all said they regretted yesterday’s violence and injuries to security guards.
“Any kind of protests should be conducted in a peaceful and rational manner,” said Democrat Helena Wong Pik-wan. She said the localist duo should “clean up the mess which they had created”.
Some pan-democrats were upset that the Youngspiration pair had not alerted any of them – not even those who had previously backed them – about their plan to storm the meeting a second time.
“We were all kept in the dark. That might affect our cooperation with them in future, as we do not know what’s going on at all,” one pan-democrat said.
That lawmaker also said the clashes had achieved nothing and might have even made things worse.
“Will the abrupt adjournment of the meeting give Beijing a great excuse to interpret the Basic Law? It could now easily argue the whole oath-taking saga should be put to an end as soon as possible to resume the normal functioning of Legco,” the legislator said.
Dr Chung Kim-wah, a political scientist at Polytechnic University, said Yau and Baggio Leung might face a challenge convincing their pro-democracy colleagues to engage in any future joint action following yesterday’s events, which he said had “crossed the line”.
“Some citizens, albeit defending the pair’s right to retake the oath, might still be upset by the clashes. I doubt many pan-democrats will be willing to pay such a political price to help the pair again,” Chung said.
He also said the localist duo’s behaviour yesterday was unwise as they needed to garner public support.
Meanwhile, another localist legislator, Lau Siu-lai, was asked to retake the oath yesterday after her original one had also been rejected due to long pauses she interjected between words while reading the pledge. She was finally successfully sworn in while pro-establishment lawmakers turned their backs at her in protest.