Legco adjourned amid chaos as Hong Kong localists try to retake oaths and crash relocated meeting
Sixtus Baggio Leung Chung-hang and Yau Wai-ching rush chamber floor, get barred from entering side room, and police and medical help sought
Key points today:
> The fourth meeting of the Legislative Council was adjourned by Legco president Andrew Leung Kwan-yuen around 1.30pm today after four security guards were hurt when they tried to block localist lawmakers Yau Wai-ching and Sixtus Baggio Leung Chung-hang from entering a conference room where the lawmaking body had relocated.
Watch: Hong Kong localists force entry into legislature for oaths
> At Andrew Leung’s request, a team of police officers arrived at the chaotic scene, and three security guards were sent to hospital.
> The Legco president rejected Democratic Party lawmaker James To Kun-sun’s request to move an urgent question about interpretation of the Basic Law, Hong Kong’s mini-constitution. To cited media reports the National People’s Congress Standing Committee was considering the possibility.
> In the main chamber, Andrew Leung suspended Legco’s meeting for 30 minutes at 11:30am and changed the meeting venue after the two localists stormed the chamber. The two had been banned from attending until they are formally sworn in.
> Localist Lau Siu-lai, whose original oath was invalidated because of the extremely slow manner in which she recited it, was successfully sworn in.
3.35pm – Andrew Leung condemns violence
Legco president Andrew Leung Kwan-yuen condemns the violent acts of the Youngspiration duo and their supporters. He says six security guards were injured in the row.
Leung says news that Beijing planned to interpret the Basic Law in order to settle the oath saga was premature. He says the Hong Kong court’s hearing of the oath-taking case is still on for tomorrow as far as he knows.
2pm – No contrition from Youngspiration duo
Baggio Leung and Yau Wai-ching appear unapologetic over the injuries, saying some assistants to other lawmakers were injured too. He says the Legco president and Secretariat should bear full responsibility for the chaos and injuries.
“I’ll send them my regards,” he says when asked whether he will apologise to the injured officers.
“I call on them not to take orders from bosses that are unreasonable and unlawful,” he adds. “They have a choice.”
The two say they only meant to enter the meeting room and perform their duties as lawmakers and did not mean to hurt anyone.
Leung explains why he and Yau changed their minds about staying away from the meeting and decided instead to storm the conference room – Andrew Leung’s rejection of James To’s motion to debate Beijing’s possible interpretation of the Basic Law.
“If the legislature cannot even debate this major issue, what is it doing here?” he asks.
1.50pm – ‘Totally unacceptable’
Pro-establishment lawmakers say after the meeting that the Legco Commission should hold an emergency meeting to discuss how to improve security arrangements to prevent security guards from being injured again.
DAB lawmaker Starry Lee Wai-king says she was informed about the decision to call the police to intervene and that she agreed with it.
“Our security guards are not professional enough and they need help,” she says. “[The violence] is totally unacceptable and all those involved should be condemned.”
1.31pm – Carried out on stretchers
Four Legislative Council security employees are receiving medical help, with three being brought out on stretchers. One is given an oxygen mask.
In total, three security guards – one woman and two men – are being sent to hospital following the chaos.
1.25pm – ‘Is this Legco or a police station?’
“Long Hair” Leung Kwok-hung tries to block police officers from entering the conference room.
“Is this Legco or a police station?” he asks.
Moments earlier, the radical pro-democracy lawmaker blasts Legco president Andrew Leung Kwan-yuen for notifying the police, calling the decision “a very serious and unreasonable event”.
1.20pm – Police arrive
At least seven police officers arrive at Legco following the chaos outside conference room 1. By law, police officers are not authorised to enter the legislature unless they are invited by the Legco president and the Secretary-General.
The officers include members of Police Tactical Unit. They have yet to explain their purpose.
1.16pm – Meeting adjourned
Legco president announces today’s meeting is adjourned. Next meeting is to be held next week.
1.11pm – A security guard faints
Legco president Andrew Leung Kwan-yuen tells media outside the conference room that a security guard has fainted and that the body’s Secretariat has filed a police report.
1.07pm – Another suspension
After Undersecretary for Constitutional and Mainland Affairs Ronald Chan Ngok-pang reads out his answer to the first oral question and before lawmakers pose their follow-up questions, the Legco president suspends the meeting citing “the chaos outside”.
Outside the room, scuffles break out as Youngspiration tries to push through the security guards and storm the meeting. They swear at the guards, and more security guards are deployed.
1pm – ‘You’re breaking the law!’
Some people, who appeared to be backers of the localist group Youngspiration, are shouting at security guards outside the conference room where the Legislative Council is meeting. The guards had blocked the two localist lawmakers from entering the meeting room moments before.
“Don’t block us, aunties!” they chant at the female guards. “According to the powers and privileges ordinance, no one should block lawmakers from entering the meeting room. You are now breaking the law.”
12.59pm – Moving right along
After Legco president Andrew Leung Kwan-yuen’s ruling and the Youngspiration pair are prevented from entering, Democrat Ted Hui Chi-fung is allowed to ask the first oral question. Hui asks about irregularities in the Legislative Council elections.
12:55pm – Guess who’s back again?
Baggio Leung and Yau Wai-ching, who after today’s suspended proceedings in the main chamber said they would not storm the council meeting again, attempt to enter the new meeting venue again, triggering more chaos.
12.54pm – No debate allowed
Several pan-democrats Wu Chi-wai and Claudia Mo urge the president to allow the motion, also saying the chief executive had hinted at the possibility of an interpretation by Beijing.
To this Andrew Leung says: “I have decided.”
“My ruling is not open to debate,” the Legco president adds. “If you want to clarify anything, do it on another occasion.”
12.52pm – And the first order of business...
Meeting resumes. Legco president Andrew Leung Kwan-yuen disallows Democratic Party lawmaker James To Kun-sun’s motion for a debate on interpreting Basic Law interpretation.
“Obviously, Councillor To’s request is based on media reports, not real happenings,” Leung says. “So I can’t approve it.”
To disagrees with Leung’s ruling. The lawmaker cites Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying as saying that he would not “rule out the possibility” of interpreting the Basic Law.
12.42pm – Meeting resuming soon
Legco will reconvene in 10 minutes in conference room 1. Most lawmakers are getting ready in their seats.
12.09pm – Lo Wai-kwok calls for respect of rules
Pro-establishment lawmaker Lo Wai-kwok, representing the engineering sector, says he hopes lawmakers could respect council rules.
“If some people storm in the chamber, utter a lot of words and then say they have finished taking their oath, it is absolutely ridiculous,” he says.
12.04pm – ‘Beijing might encourage Hong Kong independence’
Baggio Leung says if Beijing does interpret the Basic Law, it would help the growth of Hong Kong independence. He says the “one country, two systems” principle and Hong Kong independence are two options Hongkongers have and that an interpretation would undermine the principle, and thus leave Hongkongers no option but to choose independence.
11.56am – Motion to debate Beijing’s possible interpretation
As the Legco meeting resumes in conference room 1, veteran Democratic Party lawmaker James To Kun-sun tables a motion calling for a debate on the National People’s Congress’ expected interpretation of the Basic Law regarding Youngspiration duo’s oath-taking.
Legco president Andrew Leung Kwun-yuen calls for another break so that he can consider whether to allow the debate.
11.50am – Baggio Leung holds forth
During the 30-minute break, Baggio Leung announces that he and Yau will not try again for now to enter conference room 1.
“I don’t want any journalists to get injured or encounter any danger,” he says.
Asked if he and Yau would stay away from the council meeting today, Leung says: “Please give us some time to think about what we’ll do next.”
The Youngspiration member says an interpretation by Beijing would “not only destroy democracy, but also our core values, separation of powers, everything”.
Leung dismissed concerns that he was jeopardising his seat in the city’s legislature.
“Our seats now only symbolise whether truth exists in Hong Kong,” he says. “I hope to prove to the court that we are right, otherwise we’ll question whether Hong Kong is still the place we knew.”
“I dare say it is not.”
11.50am – Pro-establishment leader criticises duo
Lawmaker and executive councillor Starry Lee Wai-king, chairwoman of the Democratic Alliance for the Betterment and Progress of Hong Kong, says the Youngspiration duo’s entering the chamber was disrespectful of the Legco president’s decision and prevented the council from discussing legislative affairs.
“I hope [the pair] will not enter by force again, and I hope the non-establishment lawmakers do not escort them into the council again,” she says.
She declines to comment on Beijing’s possible interpretation of the Basic Law.
Watch: Live from Legco after localist pair blocked in attempt to retake oaths
11.31am – If at first you don’t succeed...
Before the meeting resumes in Legco’s conference room 1 on the second floor, the Youngspiration duo take a lift from the first floor to try to enter the room by surprise.
But they were outpaced by security guards who blocked them at the room entrances. They are stuck, surrounded by photographers and cameramen.
11.26am – Baggio not budging
Baggio Leung refuses to leave the chamber. Legco president Andrew Leung Kwan-yuen announces the council meeting will continue in a conference room in 30 minutes.
11.25am – Yau Wai-ching speaks
Yau Wai-ching said after being escorted out that she entered the chamber to carry out her responsibility as a lawmaker.
“I have read the whole oath and I hope I can keep staying in the chamber and attend the meeting,” she says.
Yau said Legco president Andrew Leung had contravened the rules in blocking her from taking her oath.
Yau also expressed concerns this morning over Beijing’s possible hand in the matter.
“My concern is about the destruction of the ‘one country two systems’ policy,” she says.
“Whoever asks for interpretation of the law is the one selling Hongkongers out.”
11.24am – Support circle
Baggio Leung is helped by pan-democratic and localist allies, including Ted Hui Chi-fung, “Long Hair” Leung Kwok-hung, Raymond Chan Chi-chuen and Eddie Chu Hoi-dick, who surround the Youngspiration member as security guards try to take him away.
Watch: Jeffie Lam reporting live inside Legco as localists arrive
11.16am – ‘This cannot be done!’
Lawmaker Eddie Chu Hoi-dick joins the Legco fray, shouting: “This cannot be done! He [Baggio Leung] was voted in and chosen by thousands of Hongkongers!”
11.12am – Physical obstruction
Lawmakers and security guards are in a deadlock as a group tries to physically carry Sixtus Baggio Leung Chung-hang out of the chamber.
Pan-democratic lawmaker “Long Hair” Leung Kwok-hung lies on the floor to block the procession out.
11.07am – The duo enter and rush the floor
As the UGL motion was passed, Baggio Leung and Yau Wai-ching enter the chamber accompanied by several pan-democratic lawmakers trailing them, including Eddie Chu Hoi-dick and Nathan Law Kwun-chung.
Once inside, the two rush the table in front of Legco president Andrew Leung. They take out a small piece of paper, pick up a small microphone and start to read the Legislative Council Oath.
But the Legco president tells them to leave, and when they refuse, he asks the security guards to take them away.
This request prompts several accompanying lawmakers, including Nathan Law Kwun-chung and Eddie Chu Hoi-dick, to try to stop the security guards from taking them away.
Andrew Leung orders the meeting to be suspended. Yau is taken away. Baggio Leung remains.
11.05am – Meanwhile, a motion passes
Accountancy sector lawmaker Kenneth Leung’s motion to launch a special inquiry into Chief Executive Leung Chun-Ying’s UGL controversy is passed after 28 lawmakers including the lawmakers stand in support of his motion.
The probe will look at the chief executive’s receipt in 2014 of HK$50 million from Australian firm UGL.
11.01am – Lau Siu-lai finally sworn in
Legco meeting starts, and Lau has taken her oath.
10.49am – Regina Ip talks and balks
New People’s Party chairwoman and lawmaker Regina Ip Lau Suk-yee struggles to give an answer when asked whether she supports or opposes an interpretation by Beijing.
“The good side of it is it can speed up the process,” she says. “It may be two years for the local judicial process to resolve the case.
She says the central government is “furious” about the Youngspiration duo.
“The down side is an interpretation will attack Hong Kong’s rule of law and the authority of the Hong Kong government.”
So does she support the move or not? “I don’t know,” she says.
10.45am – Protesters outside Legco
Around 20 demonstrators from the League of Social Democrats protested outside Legco, chanting: “legislators’ right to be elected should not be deprived by the Chinese communist party”. They urged Legco chairman Andrew Leung Kwan-yuen to withdraw his decision to bar the Youngspiration duo from taking their oath again, saying the decision showed he had given up his non-partisan position in depriving lawmakers of their right to discuss legislative affairs.
Lawmaker “Long Hair” Leung Kwok-hung is among the protesters and says the Legco president has capitulated to Beijing and suppressed democratically elected lawmakers.
“If [Leung] insists on serving the strong power, ignoring people’s opinions and trampling the Legislative Council, the non-establishment lawmakers will have no other choice but to escalate our fight till the end,” he said.
Watch: Jeffie Lam reports live outside Legco as lawmakers return for fourth meeting
10.44am – Former missing bookseller chimes in
Former missing bookseller Lam Wing-Kee announces he will join a demonstration 7pm tonight from the chief executive’s office to the central government’s liaison office in the city.
In a statement sent by the Democratic Party, Lam said Beijing’s interpretation of the Basic Law to settle the oath case would “destroy the judicial independence of Hong Kong”.
10.40am – One localist’s plan
Lau Siu-Lai, who is arranged to retake the oath today, says she will act “according to her conscience” before entering the chamber.
The localist was asked to redo he oath after pausing too long between every word during her first oath taking.
10.35am – Democratic Party blasts possible Beijing review
Democratic Party lawmaker James To Kun-sun said his party strongly opposed Beijing’s possible interpretation of the Basic Law, arguing Hong Kong had jurisdiction to handle the dispute.
He said the possible move by the NPCSC might hurt global confidence in the “one country, two systems” principle.
The Democrats have filed an urgent oral question and an adjournment motion pending approval by Legco president Andrew Leung Kwan-yuen. They also asked for an urgent meeting with Secretary for Justice Rimsky Yuen Kwok-keung to discuss the oath matter.
10.30am – ‘Leave it to the court’
Civic Party lawmaker Dennis Kwok, representing the legal sector, said it would be a significant blow to Hong Kong’s rule of law should the National People’s Congress Standing Committee decide to interpret the Basic Law at this stage as a judicial review looms.
“I want to tell NPCSC and the Basic Law Committee directly that I hope they would respect the ongoing judicial process in Hong Kong and that the court would definitely handle the case in a fair and just manner,” he said. “I don’t see any need for the [NPCSC] to interpret the law at this stage.”
He also alleged conflicts of interests involving Johnny Mok Shu-luen SC, a Basic Law Committee member who is representing the government in the Legco legal challenge.
Mok should either promise not to engage in the committee’s discussion on interpreting the law or not represent the government in the case, he said.
The newly-elected Legislative Council, which had its weekly council meeting adjourned for two consecutive weeks since it started on October 12, will convene again at 11am this morning.
The meeting comes just a day ahead of a court hearing for a judicial review filed by the government challenging the Legco president’s decision to allow two localist lawmakers to retake their oaths after their first failed attempt caused a huge political stir.
It also comes after the national legislative body confirmed plans to intervene in the row by issuing an interpretation of Hong Kong’s mini-constitution on Thursday – as suggested by Beijing and local sources.
The oaths by Sixtus Baggio Leung Chung-hang and Yau Wai-ching, both of the localist group Youngspiration, were invalidated by the president after they pledged allegiance to “Hong Kong nation” and called China “Shina” –a derogatory term used by Japan during the second world war.
Watch: Legco oath-taking crisis last Wednesday
Legco president Andrew Leung Kwan-yuen originally decided to offer the pair a second chance, but he later made a dramatic U-turn and banned the duo from entering the chamber after his pro-Beijing allies protested.
The meeting was eventually cut short last week after the localist pair defied Leung’s decision to storm the chamber with the help of eight pan-democrats.
Lawmakers across the political spectrum are today expected to clearly express their views on Beijing’s reported plan to interpret the Basic Law – a plan already strongly condemned by pan-democrats and legal scholars as a huge blow to the city’s rule of law and a deprival of Hong Kong court’s jurisdiction.
Meanwhile, it remains uncertain whether another newly-elected localist, Lau Siu-lai of the Democracy Groundwork, will be able to retake her oath smoothly in today’s session. Leung granted her a second chance after she spent eight minutes delivering her first oath by pausing six seconds between even Chinese word.
It was understood that the democratic caucus planned to facilitate Lau’s oath-taking and that the Youngspiration pair would not storm the meeting until Lau had been sworn in.
The Legco Secretariat introduced new measures yesterday dividing the area outside the chamber between the press zone and a passageway for councillors to use. It reminded reporters they were prohibited from entering the chamber or blocking lawmakers from entering.