Lawmaker Regina Ip files motion to censure Ted Hui in Hong Kong legislature over phone-snatching incident
After pressure from her political allies, adviser to city leader sees no procedural concerns with proceeding amid police investigation
A high-profile pro-Beijing lawmaker pressed ahead with a censure motion in Hong Kong’s legislature on Monday against a pro-democracy lawmaker over a phone-snatching incident, deciding to proceed amid pressure from her political allies.
After meeting with several leaders of her pro-establishment camp, Regina Ip Lau Suk-yee said she formally filed the motion against Ted Hui Chi-fung, with a view to tabling it on May 23.
“I spoke with several pro-establishment lawmakers,” Ip said on Monday. “Those who are lawyers said there were no procedural concerns, as any investigation [by the Legislative Council] would be confidential and would not interfere with the criminal investigation.”
He was accused of four offences: common assault, dishonest access to a computer, obstructing a public officer in the execution of her duty, and criminal damage of a paper containing a list of lawmakers’ names.
Ip, a New People’s Party lawmaker and adviser to the city’s leader, Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor, earlier said she would raise the motion at a full meeting of Legco on May 23. Once tabled, it would trigger months of investigation. A two-thirds majority vote would be required to unseat Hui.
But after Hui’s arrest, Ip expressed reservations about raising the motion at Legco given the criminal investigation. She said she would consider not proceeding with it.
Her wavering set off criticism from her allies. Multiple lawmakers voiced frustration and disbelief, with some saying they had not been made aware of Ip’s ambivalence.
One lawmaker, who declined to be named, said not proceeding with a censure motion could lead the public to think the camp was just “staging a show”.
“The biggest problem was we were not even informed beforehand,” the lawmaker said.
It was understood during the pro-establishment lawmakers’ meeting on Monday that Ip downplayed her concern about the police investigation being under way and stated from the outset of the discussion she would proceed.
“She said she was only raising the legal concerns [of Legco running a parallel investigation] and that she did not really intend to U-turn,” said Federation of Trade Union lawmaker Wong Kwok-kin, who attended the camp’s meeting.
He added that Ip, noting everyone present agreed with the plan, said “the motion would still proceed”.
Ip said later “her ideas and reservations” were her own and that her wavering had not been influenced by either the administration or Beijing’s liaison office in Hong Kong. There had been “different views within the camp” about what to do, she added, but “in the end we were able to reach a consensus”.
Hui, who had his Democratic Party membership suspended indefinitely over the phone-snatching incident, said he respected Ip’s decision.
“I will respect Legco’s existing procedures and accept any moves that may come.”
Democratic Party chairman Wu Chi-wai believed any censure motion should only come after the criminal investigation ended.
“There could be evidence that has not yet been revealed,” Wu said. “Any decision [to proceed with a censure motion] at the moment would be inappropriate.”
The embattled Hui attended another Legco meeting on the joint checkpoint plan on Monday, and noted he would carry on with his duties.
“I will attend meetings as usual, including Legco meetings, district council meetings and other activities,” he said.
During the contentious joint checkpoint discussion on Monday in which four pan-democrats were expelled over protesting Ip’s decision to end the Bills Committee’s review of proposed legislation, Hui was conspicuously restrained. He only repeatedly called for a point of order, which was ignored.