The Legislative Council should be an arena for rational debate rather than political stunts. For decades, our lawmakers and officials worked hard to build a civilised parliamentary culture that sets Hong Kong apart from our neighbours. Regrettably, this fine tradition is increasingly challenged by a few radical lawmakers. They score points with verbal abuse and unruly behaviour, such as hurling objects at officials.
It appears that actions like these are escalating, forcing the government to adopt a tougher approach in response.
Thursday's drama inside the new Legislative Council complex was indeed regrettable.
The occasion was meant to be the beginning of a fresh chapter as Legco kicked off the new session in the new Admiralty site. But instead of a rational question and answer session with Chief Executive Donald Tsang Yam-kuen, we saw a farce: a mass walkout sparked by a livid exchange between the top leader and two radical members.
The question time could have been a good opportunity to grill Tsang on his final policy speech. But it was an opportunity wasted. The media attention was drawn only to the angry exchanges, leaving little coverage of discussion of the initiatives. As a result, people were denied a better understanding of how the policy measures might affect their lives.
People Power legislator Wong Yuk-man may think his usual shouting tactics at the chief executive will win him some support. His question about how an unpopular minister like Stephen Lam Sui-lung could become chief secretary was a legitimate one. But he could have asked in a less aggressive manner.
Tsang, too, could have stayed calm and defended the appointment. But he was obviously provoked. Instead of responding to the question, he accused Wong of 'thug-like' behaviour and declared there was no place for 'triad societies' in the legislature. Wong's ally, 'Long Hair' Leung Kwok-hung, threw an egg in protest.
The exchanges prompted President Tsang Yok-sing to intervene, ordering the maverick lawmakers expelled. But his decisions were seen as biased towards the chief executive, leading pan-democrats to stage a walkout.
Wong's and Leung's actions are sending the wrong message to our younger generation about the toleration of violence. Officials should also avoid trading insults with lawmakers. What we need is civilised debate and respect for each other's opinion.
Egg throwing and other disruptive behaviour make a mockery of our legislative process.