Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying sidestepped a lawmaker's question on whether he would seek help from the People's Liberation Army to control Occupy Central protesters during their planned mass civil disobedience movement next summer.
In his Legislative Council question-and-answer session yesterday, Leung also brushed aside calls for early consultation on universal suffrage for the 2017 chief executive election. Universal suffrage - motivation for the Occupy Central movement - was the most contentious issue discussed. It came after the annual July 1 protest, when tens of thousands of people marched to demand democratic polls in 2017.
Financial services lawmaker Christopher Cheung Wah-fung asked Leung if the government had considered asking Beijing to mobilise the local garrison if Occupy Central threatened law and order. Leung just said that he had "total confidence" in the police "professionally undertaking law enforcement in accordance with the power and duties imposed by Hong Kong's legislation". Occupy Central proponents have vowed to organise a blockade if a universal suffrage plan in line with international standards is not delivered by next summer.
But Leung said early public consultation would make no difference: "You wouldn't have the chief executive election one year earlier even if we brought forward the consultation by one year."
He said his priority was resolving more pressing issues - such as the Tuen Mun landfill extension plan, now bogged down by lawmakers' opposition. "We will have universal suffrage in 2017," he said, adding it had been his goal since the late 1980s, when he was one of the Basic Law drafters.
Cheung's question on the PLA drew criticism from other lawmakers. James To Kun-sun said the issue should not be raised indiscreetly, while Priscilla Leung Mei-fun said she was surprised by the question, insisting the PLA was "not an option". Executive councillor Regina Ip Lau Suk-yee also said the police could handle any law breakers. Cheung said he had just meant to "test" Leung.
People Power lawmaker Raymond Chan Chi-chuen, on a hunger strike for 10 days to demand Leung resign, was rushed to hospital after collapsing while heckling him. He was reportedly "stable" in Queen Mary Hospital.
Topics: Leung Chun-ying Occupy Central