29 February 2020
Lawmaker Claudia Mo called Chief Executive Carrie Lam a "liar", a remark that Legco president Andrew Leung found seriously offensive. Mo and other pan-dems including Wu Chi-wai (inset) were evicted from the chamber. Photo: HKEJ
Lawmaker Claudia Mo called Chief Executive Carrie Lam a "liar", a remark that Legco president Andrew Leung found seriously offensive. Mo and other pan-dems including Wu Chi-wai (inset) were evicted from the chamber. Photo: HKEJ

Pan-dems evicted amid wrangle over CE’s ‘nonsense’ remarks

Seven pan-democratic lawmakers were evicted from the Legislative Council chamber on Thursday following their furious reactions to remarks made by Chief Executive Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor during a question-and-answer session for the Hong Kong leader. 

Responding to a question regarding the proposed amendments to the Fugitive Offenders Ordinance (FOO) from Civic Party leader Alvin Yeung Ngok-kiu, Lam said claims that the current law was intended to prevent offenders from being extradited to the mainland were “nonsense”, the Hong Kong Economic Journal reports.

The Hong Kong Bar Association (HKBA) said in its observations on the proposed amendments to the law released in early April that the restriction against any surrender arrangements with the rest of China was “a deliberate decision by the legislature when enacting the FOO in 1997 not to provide for the application of the FOO to rendition arrangements with the rest of the [People's Republic of China], particularly in light of the fundamentally different criminal justice system operating in the mainland and concerns over the mainland’s track record on the protection of fundamental rights”.

In the process of raising his queries, Yeung remarked that the FOO’s original intention when it was formulated in 1997 was to omit the mainland from the scope of the law, but Lam rejected the assertion.

The chief executive said that the fugitive extradition arrangement was not applicable to the mainland was not deliberate, saying it was also not because some people were scared of the mainland’s legal system.

It was not even because some were worried that the inclusion of the mainland in the ordinance would affect the smooth return of Hong Kong to Chinese sovereignty, Lam added.

All these claims are nonsense, she said, adding that “you may refer to the files of the Legco”.

Lam’s remarks angered pro-democracy lawmakers, with Claudia Mo Man-ching, convener of the pan-democrats’ meeting group of lawmakers, calling the chief executive a liar.

Legco president Andrew Leung Kwan-yuen remarked that Mo’s accusation was seriously offensive and demanded that she retract it, otherwise he would have her evicted.

But Mo refused to withdraw her remark, prompting Leung to order that she be kicked out if she would not do so. Several pan-democrats protested against Leung’s decision, and Leung adjourned the meeting for 15 minutes.

When the session resumed, Leung insisted on asking Mo to withdraw her accusation. Mo still refused and then left the chamber.

But the pan-democrats criticized Leung for his decision.

Leung stood firm on his decision, saying it was “undebatable”. He then ordered the eviction of six other pan-democrats – Dr. Kwok Ka-ki and Jeremy Tam Man-ho from the Civic Party, Gary Fan Kwok-wai from the Neo-Democrats, Raymond Chan Chi-chuen from People Power, and Wu Chi-wai and Ted Hui Chi-fung from the Democratic Party.

As Wu was being escorted out by security guards, RTHK said, he became agitated and shouted at Lam: “Why don’t you die? You’re a waste of life, b***h!”

Leung told media after the meeting that his decision was in line with the principles of the British parliament, which considers “liar” an insulting word and unparliamentary language. He said his ruling will set a precedent.

Yeung said Leung was too eager to protect the chief executive. He said that if lawmakers are banned from saying the word “liar”, he is concerned that in the future, lawmakers might not be allowed to criticize officials anymore and officials could then say anything they want, even if it is clearly false.

Lam, on the other hand, urged lawmakers to conduct a pragmatic discussion of the proposed changes to the fugitives law to allay public concerns, instead of just rejecting the bill outright.

She said there have been extreme remarks and unnecessary fears over the proposed amendments, adding that she regrets how such comments have stoked differences between the mainland and Hong Kong.

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