The Democratic Party announced late Thursday that it has placed lawmaker Ted Hui Chi-fung under suspension, saying Hui had sullied the party’s reputation and image by behaving inappropriately with a government official.
The party, responding to a phone-snatching controversy involving the lawmaker, said it has suspended Hui from party membership as it conducts an internal investigation.
Hui will remain suspended indefinitely, pending the result of a probe by the party’s disciplinary committee.
The suspension decision was made unanimously by the party’s central committee, where 22 members were present, in a one-and-half-hour special meeting on Thursday.
The suspension means Hui now cannot speak on behalf of the party on any policy issues or vote on internal affairs.
Hui has come under severe fire following an incident at the Legco complex on Tuesday which saw him snatch the mobile phone of a Security Bureau official and run away with the device for a while.
The lawmaker seized the phone in order to inspect the contents, as he suspected that the government official was recording the movements of legislators and violating their privacy.
After grabbing the phone, he darted off into a men’s toilet in an apparent bid to prevent the officer, who was a female, from chasing him and retrieving the handset quickly.
He later returned the phone to another government official after coming out of the toilet.
The Democratic Party admitted on Thursday that Hui’s behavior had been rude and that it amounted to bullying a civil servant, actions that tarnished the party reputation.
Announcing the suspension of Hui, party chairman Wu Chi-wai said all the central committee who attended the meeting Thursday agreed that Hui’s act was inappropriate and that it fell short of public expectations in relation to the conduct of a lawmaker.
Acknowledging that Hui’s behavior warrants strong condemnation, Wu said the party’s disciplinary committee will launch an investigation into the incident within 20 days, the Hong Kong Economic Journal reports.
Appearing before the media, Wu bowed and offered an apology on behalf of all the party’s central committee members.
Asked by a reporter as to whether he believes Hiu should resign from his Legco seat, Wu said it’s up to Hui to make any such decision.
He said he hopes Hui will make a responsible decision, stressing that the party wants the public to understand that it adopts the same standards in monitoring party members’ behavior as it does with striving for oversight on the government.
Ahead of the party central committee meeting, Hui told the media that he deeply regrets his action.
He admitted once again that that what he did was very wrong and that his behavior had been extremely inappropriate.
Acknowledging that he may have caused great pain to the government officer, he bowed for as long as 20 seconds and offered an apology to her as well as the public.
The lawmaker, who wrote an open letter to the officer to convey his sincere apology Thursday morning, added that he knows his mistake has caused embarrassment to his friends and colleagues.
Hui said he will introspect thoroughly. But he did not respond when a reporter asked him if we can expect him to quit the Legco or leave the party.
The phone-snatching incident took place Tuesday morning when lawmakers were deliberating on the Guangzhou-Shenzhen-Hong Kong Express Rail Link (Co-location) Bill.
The Legco Commission issued a “strong” condemnation letter to Hui after its members, at a special meeting Thursday, watched CCTV footage that recorded the whole Hui incident.
Legco President Andrew Leung Kwan-yuen invited all lawmakers to watch again the footage, on a closed-door basis, Friday afternoon.
Leung said the commission, which he chairs, will write to the Committee on Rules of Procedure to request establishment of a mechanism that is used to deal with inappropriate behavior of lawmakers.
As for whether the footage will be made public, Leung claimed that it will not happen unless Hui, the female officer and the rest caught in the footage agree to such move.
Expressing her opinions on the incident, Chief Executive Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor said Hui’s behavior with the government officer was “barbaric”.
The violent behavior is totally unacceptable, she said, noting that Hui had caused a lot of emotional distress to the officer.
Lam did not give a straight answer when asked whether she feels Hui is suitable for serving as a lawmaker.
Emily Lau Wai-hing, a former chairperson of the Democratic Party, has urged Hui to take the initiative to resign from his membership of the party as well as Legco.
Lau said she was making the suggestion as an ordinary party member, and not speaking on behalf of the party.
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