Legco meeting adjourned after Lau Siu-lai ordered to leave for playing video of CY Leung
Democrats rally around lawmaker then refuse to return to seats, prompting Legco president to cut session short
Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying’s meeting at the Legislative Council was adjourned on Thursday after a localist lawmaker was ordered to leave the chamber for playing a video clip of Leung promising to improve retirement protection in Hong Kong.
The incident took place a day after the city’s top official delivered his final policy address, during what began as a relatively calm meeting involving proposals on issues ranging from economic development to sports.
Leung declared on Wednesday that he had “basically” delivered on all his election promises, a claim instantly challenged by democratic lawmakers, who said he had stopped short of giving Hong Kong a “universal” retirement protection scheme. Leung insisted that his promise was only to improve retirement protection in the city.
During the Legco question-and-answer session at 10.30am on Thursday, five pro-establishment legislators spent the first 45 minutes querying the chief executive on various policy proposals.
When it was localist lawmaker Lau Siu-lai’s turn to speak, she played a video of Leung promising that “a universal retirement protection scheme needed to be done in a serious manner”.
But before the clip had finished playing, Legco president Andrew Leung ordered Lau to be expelled from the chamber. Shocked, many of the lawmaker’s democratic allies tried to block the door or surround the security guards who were trying to drag her away.
Andrew Leung called for a break and went back to his room, apparently to decide what to do next, leaving Lau, the security guards and many democrats standing near the exit.
Returning after 20 minutes, the Legco president told the democrats to return to their seats. When they refused, he announced that the meeting was adjourned at 11.40am – 20 minutes before it was due to end.
At the democratic camp’s joint briefing after the episode, Lau said: “Andrew Leung allowed each pro-establishment colleague up to 15 minutes to ask a question [and for CY Leung to answer it] ... but I could not join the discussion. Is fair discussion still allowed here?”
Civic Party vice-chairwoman Tanya Chan said in support of Lau: “According to the rules of procedure, the president can only expel a member whose conduct is ‘grossly disorderly’ ... I don’t know how Lau’s conduct could fit that criteria.”
Later, 26 pan-democratic lawmakers issued a joint open letter, calling for the Legco president to step down over his repeated “unfair” treatment of pan-democrats since October.
Leung subsequently said at separate briefing that Lau was expelled because she “disrupted the meeting’s order”.
He said that while a lawmaker could quote someone else, they could do so only verbally, and not by using a recording device.
“If I allow this, can officials answer questions with recorders too?” he asked.
Leung also dismissed the accusation that he had allowed pro-establishment lawmakers to dominate the meeting with long dialogues with the chief executive.
This is the first time since May 2014 that the chief executive’s Legco question-and-answer session has been adjourned prematurely. It is understood that the council will arrange another session with the chief executive before he steps down in June.
The chief executive attended the Legco session after a morning joint phone-in programme on his policy address.
During the programme, 17 callers expressed their concerns over various issues, including unaffordable housing, universal retirement protection and financial support for low-income families.
On Wednesday, the University of Hong Kong asked 664 residents to rate Leung’s policy address on a scale of 100. The average score was 52.3 points, making this the third most popular among his five addresses.
Leung’s most popular policy address was his first, with a score of 56.4 points. Last year’s address was the most unpopular, with a score of 41.1 points.