A livid exchange between Donald Tsang Yam-kuen and two radical democratic lawmakers in the Legislative Council yesterday sparked a mass walkout by fellow democrats after the pair were ejected from the chamber for unruly behaviour.
The uproar during a question-and-answer session a day after the chief executive's policy address saw Tsang accuse People Power legislator Wong Yuk-man of 'thug-like' behaviour and tell him there was no place for 'triad societies' in the legislature.
Adding to the drama, League of Social Democrats lawmaker 'Long Hair' Leung Kwok-hung threw a raw egg in the chief executive's direction, which hit the wall two or three metres above Tsang's head.
The row came as a survey indicated slightly higher public acceptance of the policy address this year than last year and a significant lift in Tsang's personal popularity.
Of 1,032 people interviewed on Wednesday by the University of Hong Kong's public opinion programme, 47 per cent said they were satisfied with the address, up 6 percentage points. This year's blueprint scored 59.1 out of a possible 100 marks, up from 58.9 and third highest among Tsang's seven policy speeches. Tsang's support rating rose 2.2 marks to 50.6.
In the Legco chamber there was bedlam after Wong yelled at the chief executive, saying he had failed to answer his question on why he appointed unpopular official Stephen Lam Sui-lung as chief secretary. 'You are openly taking on the public,' Wong said.
Tsang replied: 'This is thug-like behaviour, [the Legislative Council] is not a place for triad societies. What on earth are you doing, Mr Wong?'
Leung stood up and called 'order' to raise a point under Legco's rules which he later explained related to his dissatisfaction that Tsang did not answer Wong's question.
Legco president Tsang Yok-sing intervened, ejecting the maverick lawmakers for disorderly conduct.
Outside the chamber, Leung took down a portrait of Tsang Yok-sing hanging in the corridor and threw a tomato at it. He said it was unfair to expel him as he was only raising a question on procedure.
The Legco president's controversial ruling prompted 14 pan-democratic lawmakers to walk out. Lee Cheuk-yan, a lawmaker from the Confederation of Trade Unions, said Donald Tsang's remarks amounted to offensive words against Wong.
Speaking at the close of the question-and-answer session, the chief executive said: 'Mr Wong's remarks were insulting. I was scared when Mr Leung hurled an egg at me.'
He said some lawmakers applied double standards to his remarks and the conduct of Wong and Leung.
Afterwards he expressed 'deep regret' over the verbal abuse and rude behaviour by lawmakers that had disrupted rational discussion.
Tsang Yok-sing stood by his decision to expel Leung and Wong, saying he warned them about their conduct.
Leung had repeatedly yelled at Donald Tsang and Wong had used some 'inappropriate words' in his question to the chief executive. But he did not specify what the inappropriate words were.
Tsang Yok-sing also dismissed pan-democrats' criticism that he had tightened the rules and made the decision before reviewing a video. 'I don't think it's necessary to suspend the meeting to review what happened because I was very clear about what had happened in the chamber.'
Tsang said he did not think the chief executive had used offensive words against lawmakers as defined in the Legco rules of procedure.
Wong said he did not use any offensive words. 'I was just asking a follow-up question as the chief executive did not answer my question.'
In October 2008, Wong hurled bananas at the chief executive during the policy address.
Chinese University political scientist Ivan Choy Chi-keung said the Legco president's decision was unfair to Leung as he was only raising questions on the rules of procedure.
of 1,032 people polled on Wednesday were satisfied with the policy address
- 6 percentage points higher than 2010