Six democrats barred from key Legco committee meeting

October 24, 2017 16:37
Paul Tse (inset, right), chairman of the committee on rules of procedure, is surrounded by democratic lawmakers as he leaves the meeting room. Earlier, six pan-democrats were barred from the meeting. Photo: HKEJ

Chaos erupted in the Legislative Council on Monday after six pan-democrats were barred from a closed-door meeting of the committee on rules of procedure, the Hong Kong Economic Journal reports.

The six lawmakers are not members of the committee. 

The meeting, chaired by Beijing-friendly lawmaker Paul Tse Wai-chun, was called to discuss how the meeting rules of the chamber and its finance committee should be revised.

The change was proposed by the pro-establishment bloc earlier this month to deter democratic lawmakers from interfering with discussions through filibustering as they have done in the past.

The six democrats requested to attend the meeting but were denied entry after a vote by the committee’s members, most of whom are from the pro-establishment camp.

The six were Eddie Chu Hoi-dick, Chan Chi-chuen from People Power, Dr. Fernando Cheung Chiu-hung from the Labour Party, Hui Chi-fung from the Democratic Party, and Dr. Kwok Ka-ki and Jeremy Tam Man-ho, both from the Civic Party.

They banged on the door of the meeting room and chanted "Shame on Paul Tse" but they were blocked by security guards until the meeting ended.

Tse, a lawyer by profession, said the closed-door meeting did not affect the public right to know since it was held only for consultation purposes and there were proper meeting records.

Two democrats who are members of the committee live-streamed the meeting through Facebook. Tse slammed the move.

Another pro-establishment lawmaker, Chan Hak-kan from the Democratic Alliance for the Betterment and Progress of Hong Kong, said such a move was not only disrespectful to Tse as chairman but also might have made other participants hold back on their opinions.

Saying Tse had no right to keep the door closed, Chu insisted that the meeting rules do not stipulate non-member lawmakers cannot be observers.

Chu vowed to continue taking action when the committee meets next time.

Civic Party lawmaker Alvin Yeung Ngok-kiu said Legco house rules state that all members, irrespective of whether they are members of a particular committee, may attend the meetings of the committee. He called Tse an "unsuitable" chairman.

In a joint statement, 22 democrats condemned Tse for allowing committee members to discuss the proposal for about a dozen minutes only before asking them to vote, as well as for failing to take a recess to explain to the six blocked lawmakers.

The meeting ended up with no discussion on revising the Legco meeting rules. However, the finance committee was allowed to deliberate changes to its own meeting rules.

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