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Hong Kong high-speed rail

No-confidence motion planned against Legco president Andrew Leung over debate on Hong Kong joint checkpoint for cross-border high-speed rail link

Pan-democratic lawmakers claim pro-Beijing leader violated house rules

PUBLISHED : Friday, 15 June, 2018, 6:55pm
UPDATED : Friday, 15 June, 2018, 10:50pm

Twenty-six Hong Kong lawmakers have decided to move a no-confidence motion against Legislative Council president Andrew Leung Kwan-yuen over his handling of the debate on a controversial joint checkpoint plan involving a cross-border express rail link.

The move by 25 pan-democrats and independent medical sector legislator Pierre Chan on Friday came a day after the bill allowing mainland Chinese authorities to enforce national laws within Hong Kong’s express rail terminus at West Kowloon was passed.

The bill won backing from 40 members of the pro-establishment camp. The pan-democrats denounced the plan as “contravening the Basic Law”, Hong Kong’s mini-constitution.

Meanwhile, Occupy Central leader Benny Tai Yiu-ting called for a judicial review against Leung for imposing restrictions on the bill debate. Tai claimed he had violated Legco house rules.

To ensure the bill would be passed in time for the Guangzhou-Shenzhen-Hong Kong Express Rail Link to open in September as scheduled, Leung capped the debate time at 36 hours and threw out more than 50 amendments proposed by the pan-democrats.

On Wednesday, Leung kicked out five pro-democracy camp lawmakers who had protested against his rulings, and he did not allow them back to the meeting the next day. This decision, pan-democrats said, violated Legco’s rule book.

Civic Party leader Alvin Yeung Ngok-kiu said on Friday the 26 lawmakers had jointly signed a letter addressed to House Committee chairwoman Starry Lee Wai-king to request a discussion on moving a no-confidence vote against the Legco president next Friday.

Yeung said the camp would still table the motion at the full council meeting on June 27, even if Lee rejected it.

“[Leung’s] meeting arrangements were extremely improper,” the pan-democrats wrote. “He stripped lawmakers of their rights, which proves he has no intention and no ability to hold fair and just Legco meetings, and is not suitable to be president.”

We deserve an open debate so the Hong Kong public can understand what went wrong
Alvin Yeung Ngok-kiu, lawmaker

But Yeung admitted the motion, which is non-binding, was unlikely to gain support from pro-establishment lawmakers.

“We deserve an open debate so the Hong Kong public can understand what went wrong,” he added.

Tai, a legal scholar at the University of Hong Kong, said a judicial review would be filed, arguing Leung had contravened Legco’s rules of procedure.

“Andrew Leung’s behaviour proves the central government’s implementation of authoritarianism rule in Hong Kong,” Tai said.

He claimed Leung had arbitrarily interpreted the powers the Basic Law granted to Legco presidents.

But Tai conceded a court would be unlikely to weigh in on a Legco matter and that a judicial review would probably be fruitless.

Tai also warned that Leung could employ similar tactics on other controversial issues, such as national anthem legislation, which is set to be tabled at Legco within weeks and before the body’s summer recess.

But the Legco president said on Thursday each legislative bill was different. And he would not speculate whether he would impose a time limit again.

“It would depend on the urgency of each bill.”

Pro-establishment camp convenor Martin Liao Cheung-kong said the president’s power to chair a meeting was granted by the Basic Law as well as Legco rules, and that he or she could exercise discretion on a case-by-case basis.

But a lawmaker from Liao’s own bloc, Paul Tse Wai-chun, who chairs Legco’s rules committee, earlier said Leung did not have the power to bar the five evicted lawmakers from rejoining the meeting.

Separately on Friday, about a dozen civilian groups joined NeoDemocrats’ Gary Fan Kwok-wai and HK First lawmaker Claudia Mo Man-ching in demanding Leung step down.

Tsuen Wan district councillor Roy Tam Hoi-pong described the Legco president as “the blackest of the black whistles”.

Additional reporting by Alvin Lum