Colleagues back Hong Kong politician caught up in airport hair gel furore with vote against debate
Ma Fung-kwok blasted for safeguarding his own hair style rather than rule of law, but motion for debate defeated
A Hong Kong politician accused of abusing his status as a lawmaker to bring extra hair gel onto a flight will not face scrutiny in the legislature after his pro-establishment colleagues on Friday voted down a motion to hold an emergency debate on the issue.
The opposition pan-democrats said the incident was serious as it related to the rule of law but the rival pro-Beijing bloc argued that a trivial episode was being escalated unnecessarily.
Lawmaker Ma Fung-kwok was last week caught at the centre of the furore, dubbed “hair gel-gate” online, after he was earlier stopped by security guards in the departure hall of Hong Kong airport.
A security check found that he had a 200ml tube of hair gel in his carry-on backpack. Passengers are not allowed to carry liquids, gels or aerosols in containers larger than 100ml in cabin baggage, even if the container is only part-full.
Ma mentioned to the guards that he was a lawmaker and after some discussions he was allowed to go with his gel.
Speaking on Friday, Ma, who represents the sports, performing arts, culture and publication sector in the Legislative Council, again apologised to the public and the guards involved.
Ma admitted it was inappropriate to bring up his status as a lawmaker and the name of Airport Authority chief executive Fred Lam Tin-fuk when he spoke with the guards, but said he had not intended to seek special treatment.
Civic Party lawmaker Jeremy Tam Man-ho, a pilot by trade, slammed Ma’s acts and raised the motion to hold an adjournment debate in a coming full Legco meeting to discuss “issues relating to violation of security requirements”.
“The rule of law or the hair gel, which is more important?” Tam asked. “You may think it is a trivial matter but you have affected the whole family of the officer.”
Democratic Party lawmaker Lam Cheuk-ting agreed, saying it was unacceptable for Ma to ignore well-established rules.
“You may have to safeguard your own hair style and hair gel … But the most important thing you have to safeguard is the rule of law,” he said.
However, the pro-establishment camp argued that the motion was not needed.
“We are not saying that what Ma did was right, but the motion is unnecessary,” lawmaker Wong Kwok-kin said. “Ma’s biggest mistake was his insistence on bringing the tube of hair gel with him given his amount of hair.”
The remark drew a round of laughter from all sides.
The motion was defeated by 28 votes to 21.
The Aviation Security Company Limited, which is responsible for security at Hong Kong International Airport, earlier said it had started a disciplinary review into the case as inquiries revealed the guards involved did not follow procedures and had allowed Ma to take the gel on board.