Lawmaker Junius Ho to face probe over call for Hong Kong independence advocates to be ‘killed mercilessly’
Pan-democrat Claudia Mo to table motion in legislature to censure Ho
Pro-establishment politician Junius Ho Kwan-yiu is set to become the third Hong Kong lawmaker in a year to face an internal probe by the city’s legislature, over remarks he made last month that independence advocates should be “killed mercilessly”.
Speaking at a meeting of the Legislative Council’s House Committee on Friday, opposition pan-democrat lawmaker Claudia Mo Man-ching said she would table a motion in the chamber on October 18 to censure Ho, as his remarks constituted “misbehaviour and a breach of oath”.
She was referring to the Legco oath of office that states a legislator should obey the law.
“Just like freedom of the press, freedom of speech is restricted by certain bottom lines,” Mo said. But she denied she was acting in an authoritarian manner by seeking to punish Ho merely for speaking out.
She previously said the motion would be jointly tabled with allies Raymond Chan Chi-chuen, Eddie Chu Hoi-dick and Leung Yiu-chung.
Last month Ho said activists calling for Hong Kong to break away from Chinese rule should be killed without mercy. He made the comment at a public rally demanding the sacking of University of Hong Kong academic Benny Tai Yiu-ting. Tai co-founded the Occupy civil disobedience movement that culminated in pro-democracy protests shutting down parts of the city in 2014.
Ho challenged those objecting to his comment to report him to the police, and former pan-democrat lawmaker Gary Fan Kwok-wai did just that, accusing Ho of breaching the city’s Public Order Ordinance with intimidating words.
Commissioner of Police Stephen Lo Wai-chung on September 22 said the case would be investigated “fairly”. Four days later Ho backed down and admitted in a television interview that his remarks had been the wrong choice of words.
In the meeting on Friday, Ho said Mo was trying to punish him.
“We were not inciting others to use violence. The rally’s theme was anti-independence, and I took my oath to uphold the Basic Law, which says Hong Kong is an inalienable part of China,” Ho said, referring to the city’s mini-constitution.
New People’s Party chairwoman Regina Ip Lau Suk-yee said while she had criticised Ho for using “the wrong words”, there was no need to table a motion to censure him.
“What he said does not mean he was asking people to kill anyone ... Mo’s argument is too weak,” Ip said.
Fellow pro-establishment lawmakers Paul Tse Wai-chun and Felix Chung Kwok-pan said Ho should consider making a public apology.
The majority of pan-democratic lawmakers vowed to support the motion, but Democratic Party legislator James To Kun-sun said he had reservations about it.
“Ho deserves to be reprimanded, but did what he said meet the Basic Law’s standard for censuring a lawmaker? That should be a high standard,” To said.
Under Legco rules, lawmakers do not need to vote on whether a member can table a motion to censure a colleague. The tabling alone will trigger an internal investigation, leading to disqualification from the chamber if the motion is passed by a two-thirds majority after the probe is complete.
Ho will become the third lawmaker to be the subject of an internal investigation since Legco’s new term started a year ago. Motions were previously tabled to censure localist Cheng Chung-tai and pro-establishment legislator Holden Chow Ho-ding, and those are still in progress.
The meeting on Friday was Legco’s first House Committee meeting of the new legislative year.
Pan-democrats also questioned why, during Legco elections a year ago, Ho claimed to be a practising lawyer in countries including Britain and Singapore, but later backed down to admit he only possessed the qualifications to practise in those jurisdictions but had yet to do so.
Meanwhile, pro-establishment lawmakers Starry Lee Wai-king and Chan Kin-por were on Friday re-elected chairwoman and chairman of the House Committee and Finance Committee, respectively, following two debates that focused on how they would balance the right of lawmakers to speak with the efficient running of the committees.
Chan, who has held his post since 2015, defeated pan-democrat Kenneth Leung in the poll a day after Chan revealed that the pro-establishment camp had reached a consensus on proposals to restrict filibustering in the committee.
Chan promised to be “fair” in chairing the committee and change its rules to make it “more efficient”.