15 December 2018
A piece of luncheon meat lies on a microphone as legislators meet the press after Wednesday's Legco walkout. Photo: HKEJ, baidu
A piece of luncheon meat lies on a microphone as legislators meet the press after Wednesday's Legco walkout. Photo: HKEJ, baidu

A luncheon meat legislature? No kidding

Luncheon meat literally flew from one side to the other as opposing legislators clashed after a walkout by the pro-establishment camp on Wednesday.

At the end of the horrid spectacle, pieces of luncheon meat were on the microphones of the pro-government legislators as they spoke to the media.

The walkout denied the chamber a quorum and torpedoed a second chance by Youngspirations lawmakers-elect Yau Wai-ching and Sixtus Baggio Leung to take their oath of office.

That means they cannot participate in the deliberations of the council until they are fully sworn-in.

But judging by the lengths to which the government and its Legco allies are prepared to go to stop them, this could be a messy, drawn-out affair — at least until Nov 3.

That is when an application for judicial review by the government will be heard by the High Court against a decision by Legco President Andrew Leung to allow the duo to retake the oath on Wednesday.

But there is no certainty the saga will end there, especially if either side appeals the decision.

Legco is facing an unprecedented administrative obstacle that threatens to distract it from its work in the days and weeks ahead.

In all likelihood, the paralysis will affect the government’s policy address in January and the budget presentation in March.  

Meanwhile, Wednesday’s adjournment due to a lack of quorum was the best possible outcome for Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying, with the chamber preparing to open an investigation into HK$50 million in secret payments he received from Australian firm UGL before he took office. 

That opens up some breathing room as the to-and-fro over Yau and Sixtus Leung continues.

Pro-Beijing legislators are demanding a formal apology from the pair but they insist they have done nothing wrong and will do no such thing.

It is not clear if they will drop all opposition to their swearing-in if the duo did apologize.

But Priscilla Leung of the Business and Professionals Alliance said their oath-taking should be delayed until after the High Court has ruled on the judicial review.

In any event, the pro-Beijing camp has not said whether they will stage another walkout if Andrew Leung decides to call Yau and Sixtus Leung back in again to take their oaths.

What is clear is that Leung and his political allies are milking the controversy to underline their loyalty to Beijing.

Leung has a huge stake in all of this with Beijing yet to decide whether or not to anoint him for a second term he evidently craves.

No one knows what he is prepared to do.

Some observers have said Yau and Sixtus Leung underestimated his determination to get them removed by fair means or foul.

He has already shown contempt for the High Court by disrespecting its decision not to issue an injunction against the duo being allowed to retake the oath by getting his Legco allies to orchestrate a walkout.

And by going to the High Court, he took on Andrew Leung by directly challenging his legislative prerogative to allow the pair to be finally sworn in.

Watch this space.

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EJ Insight writer

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