Legislative Council president Andrew Leung Kwan-yuen has decided to cancel all council meetings scheduled for this week and next week, after protesters stormed and ravaged the Legco building on Monday night.
Leung, however, denied that Legco is taking an early summer recess, noting that lawmakers still have to perform district-based work and continue communicating with the government and different political parties.
The facilities inside the Legco building, including the entrances, corridor and session hall, suffered severe damage after black-clad protesters wearing masks and helmets stormed and vandalized the place on Monday, the 22nd anniversary of Hong Kong’s return to Chinese sovereignty.
The mayhem lasted about three hours until police officers came in and dispersed the crowd at midnight.
Leung said the entire building was devastated and it would take some time before power supply and the fire safety system could be fully restored.
The security control room on the ground floor also sustained heavy damage, rendering the entire security system in the complex inoperable, he said.
The Legco chief described the Legco complex as a “big crime scene” and condemned the violent behavior of the protesters, RTHK reported.
Leung told media the Legco Secretariat and the Architectural Services Department would conduct an in-depth inspection of the damages and then report to the Legco Commission, according to a government press release.
“I believe many Hong Kong people would share the same feeling with me that we are saddened by what happened last night. For the best interest of Hong Kong, I hope that all of us could find the way forward rationally,” he said.
Asked by media whether the Legco can use alternative venues for the scheduled council meetings, Leung said it would be extremely difficult to find such places in the short term and therefore not feasible, the Hong Kong Economic Journal reported.
Legco Finance Committee chairman Chan Kin-por said his panel would have to hold extra meetings after the two-week suspension, and may have to shorten the agenda and expedite deliberations during the period.
Committee members have yet to discuss more than 40 items related to people’s livelihood, Chan said, adding that the panel will not hold meetings in alternative venues.
Chan, who also represents the insurance sector, said while the facilities inside Legco should be fully insured, the government may have to pay tens of millions of Hong Kong dollars to repair the damaged outer wall structures, which are reportedly not covered by insurance.
Meanwhile, staff from the police identification bureau, with assistance from the Organized Crime and Trial Bureau, have been gathering evidence in the Legco building since Tuesday.
Entry to the building has been strictly restricted. Lawmakers can only go to their offices after registration and body search with the use of a metal detector. Their assistants are not allowed to the Legco building at the moment.
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