Lawmakers from both the pan-democratic and pro-establishment camps lashed out at Chief Executive Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor and her cabinet, blaming the administration for mishandling the extradition bill saga that has plunged Hong Kong into its deepest political crisis in decades.
They spoke in the Legislative Council on Thursday during a debate on a motion jointly initiated by 25 pro-democracy lawmakers to start an impeachment process against the chief executive.
Democratic Party chairman Wu Chi-wai said Lam made a huge political mistake by turning a deaf ear to the people’s voices and pressing ahead with the now-withdrawn legislative initiative that would have allowed extraditions to the mainland, the Hong Kong Economic Journal reports.
Lam’s failure to do her job well has damaged the core interests of Hong Kong and her inability to handle the current political deadlock according to the results of the Nov. 24 District Council elections was a dereliction of duty, Wu said.
Lawmaker Gary Fan Kwok-wai from the Neo-Democrats called Lam the initiator of all the chaos and violent incidents in the city over the past months, saying her administration dared to defy public opinion and oppress dissidents because it was backed by subservient government officials and pro-government lawmakers as well as a police force that owns a large number of weapons.
The motion initiated by the pan-democrats calls for the establishment of an independent committee to investigate Lam’s alleged serious breaches of law and dereliction of duty, and report its findings to the Legco.
Pro-establishment lawmakers are opposed to Lam’s impeachment, but they also slammed her administration for mishandling the extradition bill saga.
Speaking during the debate, lawmaker Starry Lee Wai-king, chairwoman of the pro-Beijing Democratic Alliance for the Betterment and Progress of Hong Kong, said the government did not consult with the pro-establishment camp before introducing the proposed revisions to the extradition law.
Lee said she was extremely disappointed at the government’s responses to the protest movement over the past months, and accused Lam of not finding the best timing to withdraw the extradition bill.
The DAB chairwoman, who retained her District Council seat by a narrow margin in the recent election, said Lam, instead of being proactive in dealing with the worsening violence by rioters, appeared weak and ineffective, RTHK reported.
Lee also spoke out against some of Lam’s principal officials who, she said, showed no determination in helping quell the chaos in the streets.
“Some of the officials, well, they haven’t uttered a single word in the past six months. Some of them were compelled to appear and say a few words,” the public broadcaster quoted Lee as saying.
Lee singled out Secretary for Justice Teresa Cheng Yeuk-wah, Secretary for Security John Lee Ka-chiu and Secretary for Education Kevin Yeung Yun-hung.
Cheng was never seen trying to do her best to explain the issues concerning the extradition bill from the legal perspective, while the security chief failed to identify the people behind the unrest, such as the leaders and those offering financial support, the DAB chief said.
As for the education chief, Lee accused him of passing the buck to university authorities when students participated in violent and unlawful acts.
She also questioned why Secretary for the Environment Wong Kam-sing, instead of helping stop the violence, chose to continue attending environment-related events during these tough times.
Despite her harsh criticism of the Lam administration, Lee rejected the call for Lam’s impeachment, saying such a move would only create a vacuum in governance.
The impeachment motion ended up being turned down by a vote of 26 for to 36 against, with six pro-establishment lawmakers absent from the voting.
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