Legislative Council president Tsang Yok-sing yesterday ruled that the repeated use of what the League of Social Democrats called common slang was inappropriate in the legislature.
Following overwhelming criticism on the use of foul language in Legco last week, Mr Tsang made a ruling yesterday immediately after league lawmaker Leung Kwok-hung said puk kai during the budget debate.
'Unparliamentary language should not be confined to foul language. I cannot allow the legislature to keep wasting time on defining whether some words are considered foul language.
'Taking consideration of the comments by the legislature and the public ... I rule that these words are inappropriate to be used in the legislature,' Mr Tsang said, adding that the words cannot be used in future.
Last week, a league statement listed examples of how puk kai in Cantonese could be used, and Mr Leung said it could mean 'go to hell' in English, at worst. The league also argues that the words are not foul language.
When league lawmaker Albert Chan Wai-yip challenged Mr Tsang, the Legco president explained that his judgment did not rule that the words used were foul language. 'The concern is that it should not be used in the chamber.'
During the budget debate, Mr Leung ended his speech by saying puk kai was definitely not foul language and the criticism of it was distorted.
Lawmakers welcomed the Legco president's ruling, saying that they wished to see the legislature focus discussion on matters of public concern.
Democratic Party chairman Albert Ho Chun-yan said it was an intelligent ruling, adding that the Legco president did not have to define foul language.
'He does not have to define what foul language is. Any offensive language should not be used,' Mr Ho said.
Civic Party leader Audrey Eu Yuet-mee also backed Mr Tsang's judgment, saying the legislature should get back to the discussion of the budget instead of arguing about the use of foul language.