Pro-Beijing and pro-democracy politicians have been discussing the issue for weeks House Committee
, which controls which invoices are discussed by the semi-elected body. Monday they were had to elect a new president
, with lawmakers supporting the government to take over, paving the way for a number of controversial proposals, including one that makes it a crime to insult the Chinese national anthem.
The meeting quickly dissolved into acrimony and scribbles, when lawmakers arrived to find a pro-Beijing politician, Chan Kin-por, sitting in the president’s seat, second
The Hong Kong public broadcaster, RTHK.
Starry Lee, leader of the pro-Beijing DAB, the largest body party, was finally elected with 40 votes. However, opposition lawmakers said they would not recognize Lee.
“As you can see, this is an illegitimate meeting, without any legal reason, and Chan Kin-por has in fact exercised illegitimate power and therefore we do not consider Starry Lee as chairman of the House committee” said Tanya Chan
, one of the expelled legislators.
Dennis Kwok, a legislator from the Democratic Civic Party, had chaired the House Committee until he was stripped of his responsibilities last week by LegCo President Andrew Leung, following a controversial speech by Beijing representatives in Hong Kong, who he accused Kwok of “filibustering” “and suggested moving to have him expelled from the body.
“The reality of Hong Kong today is that whenever Beijing, whenever Carrie Lam and the establishment don’t like something, they will do whatever it takes, including breaking the system we have, the rules we have,” said Kwok Monday.
Lawmakers are expected to give the National Anthem Law a second reading on May 27th. The proposed law will make it a punishable offense of up to three years in prison “for insulting the national anthem”.
It has been widely criticized by opposition figures and human rights organizations, but the body, in which pro-Beijing lawmakers hold a majority, is likely to pass. The government hopes to do so before the current mandate expires in July, ahead of the September parliamentary elections.
Those elections, as well as national anthem law, will likely be the key theme of the renewed anti-government protests, which have resumed making themselves heard after a prolonged pause due to the coronavirus pandemic.
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