Legco joint rail checkpoint debate descends into chaos again as bill heads to vote
Legislation on joint checkpoint for express rail set to be passed on Thursday, after day of debate which saw five lawmakers evicted and police called in
The Legislative Council is set to pass a controversial bill on Thursday on the joint checkpoint arrangements for a cross-border express rail link, a day after debate on the proposals descended into chaos, with five opposition lawmakers being evicted and police called in to investigate the injuries of two security guards.
The debate, which resumed at 3pm on Wednesday, started with the pro-democracy camp protesting at Legco president Andrew Leung Kwan-yuen’s decision to bar 11 lawmakers from speaking after the allotted time ended last week.
Leung and the Democratic Alliance for the Betterment and Progress of Hong Kong’s Starry Lee Wai-king, who are the chairman and deputy chairwoman of the Legco Commission, made the decision to call the police after two security guards were said to have been injured while the five lawmakers were escorted out of the chambers. Two of the legislators also claimed to be hurt and were sent to Queen Mary Hospital for examination.
During their protests, the pan-democrats stood up, with some calling the president “trash” and “shameful” and questioning procedural problems.
Leung instructed Secretary for Transport and Housing Frank Chan Fan to make his speech, as the pan-democrats continued shouting aloud.
Instead of speaking into the microphone that is usually placed on a podium, Chan picked it up and loudly continued his speech.
Filibustering Hong Kong’s controversial rail checkpoint bill will not delay bill, pro-democracy lawmakers told
Two Democratic Party lawmakers – Andrew Wan Siu-kin and Lam Cheuk-ting – were the first to be dragged out of the chamber by security at 3.05pm.
Democrat Ted Hui Chi-fung was also ejected five minutes later, followed by Au Nok-hin and Roy Kwong Chun-yu, who stood on the table during the protest.
Leung barred the five lawmakers from returning to the meeting on Wednesday, saying it was “usual practice”.
The decision to call the police sparked outcry from the pro-democracy camp.
“I did not hurt any guards. I just grabbed the table to express my dissatisfaction of Leung’s ruling,” Lam said. “If that could put me under prosecution, it would make Legco similar to the national legislature where all bills could be passed just by clapping hands.”
Lam said he had cooperated with the guards.
At around 3.15pm, the second reading of the bill was passed with 41 supporting votes and 20 objections, moving the debate to amendment discussions before the final stage on Thursday.
The opposition camp has been questioning the constitutionality of the joint checkpoint arrangements for the local section of the Guangzhou-Shenzhen-Hong Kong Express Rail Link, under which officers from across the border can enforce mainland law in the port area at the West Kowloon terminus.
Leung capped the co-location debate at 36-hours to ensure the bill would be passed in time for the rail link to start operating as scheduled in September.
Speaking after the meeting ended, Leung said the Legco Commission had established a new protocol last month.
“If our colleague is interfered [with] and hurt, the secretariat will call the police,” Leung said of the new arrangement.