Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying on Thursday brushed aside calls for an early consultation on universal suffrage for the 2017 chief executive elections.
Speaking at a Legislative Council question and answer session, Leung said an early public consultation would not make any difference to when universal suffrage was introduced in Hong Kong. He said his priority was resolving more pressing issues - such as the Tuen Mun landfill extension plan.
“You wouldn’t have the chief executive election one year earlier even if we brought forward the consultation by one year,” he said. “We need to have priorities.”
Universal suffrage was the most contentious issue discussed during Thursday’s session.
It comes a few days after the annual July 1 protest, when tens of thousands of Hong Kong people marched to demand democratic elections in 2017.
Asked about the protesters’ demands, Leung said his government must strictly comply with the Basic Law and the National Peoples’ Congress Standing Committee’s decisions on the issue.
“We will have universal suffrage in 2017,” he added.
Christopher Cheung Wah-fung, a legislator for the brokerage industry, asked the chief executive whether the police could cope with future Occupy Central campaign protests.
He asked Leung whether the People’s Liberation Army troops might need to be deployed to help.
Leung replied that he had full confidence in the Hong Kong police handling future protests professionally.
Also at Thursday's session, People Power lawmaker Chan Chi-chuen, who has been on hunger strike for 10 days to demand the chief executive resign, had to be rushed to hospital. Chan had collapsed while heckling Leung.
Earlier, Chan and three other radical lawmakers rose from their seats in the Legco to shout slogans and interrupt Leung’s speech. People Power law maker Albert Chan Wai-yip tried to throw a placard at Leung. The placard landed close to the chief executive, who turned his body to one side.
Albert Chan, pro-democracy lawmaker Wong Yuk-man, and League of Social Democrats lawmaker ‘‘Long Hair’’ Leung Kwok-hung, were also expelled from the session after shouting slogans.
At the meeting, Leung also addressed other controversial topics including the Northeast New Territories development plans, the Tuen Mun landfill extension plan and his government’s performance.
The chief executive then took the opportunity to encourage legislators’ support for the Tuen Mun landfill extension plan - which his government might be forced to withdraw after strong opposition. The proposal will be tabled in Legco for funding approval.