Hong Kong’s Legislative Council will hold an extra meeting on Friday in a bid to clear a backlog of bills waiting on the long-delayed election of a new committee chair, the pro-establishment lawmaker vying for the position has announced. Monday’s statement of intent by legislator Starry Lee Wai-king, who chaired Legco’s House Committee in 2018-19, came after president Andrew Leung Kwan-yuen signalled that she should wrest control of the panel from opposition lawmaker Dennis Kwok, who is accused of deliberately stalling the process. Leung, a pro-government lawmaker, said the call was based on external legal advice from two senior counsels – even though it contradicted a ruling in October that the chairmanship election should take precedence over other matters. Since October, the committee – which scrutinises bills and decides when they can be tabled for a final vote – has failed to elect a chair. In the present situation … [Starry] Lee has the responsibility and the authority to deal with the problems caused by the inordinate delay in the election of the chairman Andrew Leung, Legco president Kwok, previously the deputy chairman, has presided over the meetings since October, as Lee sought re-election. But he has allowed his allies to debate various issues, leaving the pro-establishment camp furious and accusing him of filibustering. Beijing’s liaison office issued statements to hit out at Kwok and other opposition lawmakers for holding up more than 30 pieces of legislation, including a new law to criminalise abuse of the national anthem. Leung revealed on Monday he had sought external advice from senior counsels Benjamin Yu and Jenkin Suen, and they were of the view that Lee, as the incumbent chairwoman, had the power to break the deadlock. Lee also chairs the Democratic Alliance for the Betterment and Progress of Hong Kong, the city’s largest pro-Beijing party. Leung said that, according to the two lawyers, the incumbent chair “should have all the usual powers to conduct the business of the House Committee”. Beijing slams Hong Kong’s opposition lawmakers for not taking their oath seriously He then said Lee, who was seeking re-election against 22 pan-democrats, might call meetings over “urgent business” other than the election. That was despite Legco’s in-house legal advisers saying in October that “no other business can be transacted” before a new chairperson is in place. Leung said the previous advice was given “based on the ordinary course of events”, and that the latest advice took into account Kwok’s actions. “In the present situation … Lee has the responsibility and the authority to deal with the problems caused by the inordinate delay in the election of the chairman,” Leung said. He did not comment on whether lawmakers should give up on the committee election altogether. Asked what urgent business Lee might call meetings over, Leung only said there was a legislative backlog in the committee. “Is that urgent? I think it is up to the members and the public to decide,” he said. Hours later, Lee announced that she would convene two House Committee meetings on Friday. A morning session chaired by Kwok would deal with the election, Lee said, adding that she would chair a special meeting in the afternoon to discuss the latest legal advice. Lee said that, at the end of the afternoon session, she would make a judgment over the latest legal advice, but she did not elaborate. “Afterward, I will go onto other agenda [items],” she said. Asked if she was worried that the Friday meeting could be derailed by a conflict between lawmakers – as has happened in other recent showdowns over panel chairs – Lee said: “We hope there will not be any chaos, so there will be time for people to give their views [on the legal advice].” A 79-page document to lawmakers containing the latest legal advice also says the government may seek to resume the legislative process for the national anthem law and other bills by consulting Lee as the incumbent chair. Hong Kong man spared jail after protest-related attack on Post photographer Whether a new law is enacted in full compliance with Legco’s rule book was also “not essential to the validity” of the legislation, the document read. In their joint legal advice, Yu and Suen also said Kwok had “acted beyond his powers” in presiding over the election. Speaking before Lee’s announcement, Kwok refused to say how he and his allies would act at the next House Committee meeting. “If I am to preside over the meeting, I will continue to chair it in accordance with the rules of procedure,” Kwok said, adding that he did not want to see any “ugly scenes”. He also said Leung’s letter did not amount to a ruling and lawmakers would be unlikely to reach a consensus soon. He warned that the latest legal advice might trigger further political conflicts similar to the row over the government’s now-withdrawn extradition bill , which sparked months of protests . In a statement, 42 pro-government lawmakers said they agreed with the latest legal advice. Help us understand what you are interested in so that we can improve SCMP and provide a better experience for you. We would like to invite you to take this five-minute survey on how you engage with SCMP and the news.