Hong Kong opposition lawmakers ordered to pay $45,000 for damaging Legco during debate over national anthem bill

Firefighters and police officers check the chamber of Hong Kong’s Legislative Council after opposition lawmakers hurled stinky objects during a debate on the national anthem bill on June 4.
PHOTO: K.Y. Cheng

Three Hong Kong opposition lawmakers have been ordered to pay a total of HK$252,000 (S$45,000) in damages for hurling foul-smelling objects during recent debates over the national anthem bill at the Legislative Council.

Legco president Andrew Leung Kwan-yuen on Tuesday said the bill was spent on replacing the carpet, air-conditioner filters, lawmakers’ seats and uniforms of security guards after three lawmakers – Ted Hui Chi-fung, Raymond Chan Chi-chuen and Eddie Chu Hoi-dick – threw containers of stinky items in two separate meetings.

Hui, who hurled a rotten plant during a debate on the now-passed national anthem bill on May 28, was ordered to foot a bill of HK$52,000, while Chan and Chu were each asked to pay not less than HK$100,000 for throwing a smelly brown-coloured liquid on June 4.

Speaking after a Legco meeting on Tuesday, Leung added the legislature would consider deducting the amount from lawmakers’ salaries, or even collecting it through legal means.

But the opposition accused authorities of trying to increase the costs of protests and vowed to carry on their actions to stop any “unjust legislation” in future.

“It is our obligation as legislators to exercise the right action to stop a legislation that violates the basic human rights of Hong Kong people, so we have no regret for our actions,” Chu said, adding he also expected criminal prosecution from authorities.

“But it would not stop us from carrying out our future actions when we face another unjust law,” he said.

Chan added they would seek advice from lawyers and surveyors on whether the bill was reasonable, after receiving it.

The city’s legislature eventually passed the national anthem law on June 4, outlawing insults to mainland China’s anthem March of the Volunteers amid multiple attempts by opposition lawmakers to disrupt proceedings.

Meanwhile, Leung also revealed that the latest insurance premium Legco had to pay for a two-year contract had increased fourfold to HK$3 million in light of the massive compensation it sought last year.

He was referring to the more than HK$40 million worth of damage caused by anti-government protesters, who stormed and vandalised the Legco complex on July 1 last year, when Hong Kong marked the 22nd anniversary of its handover to Chinese rule.

Legislator Ted Hui throws a stinky object, which was later identified as a rotten plant, into the chamber during a debate on the national anthem bill at the Legislative Council in Hong Kong on May 28.
PHOTO: Nora Tam

Separately, the Civic Party has demanded a disciplinary hearing over a security guard, who was slammed by an Eastern Court Magistrate judge for offering an “exaggerating account” of an attack in court.

On June 12, Ho Sau-yee, a 22-year-old activist from political party Demosisto, was acquitted of one count of common assault in which she was accused of pushing a security guard during a protest against the national anthem bill amid a public hearing at Legco on the matter on March 16 last year.

The magistrate said her collision with the security guard was not intentional and accused the guard of exaggerating his claims which apparently did not match with a video footage.

Leung on Tuesday refrained from commenting on the case due to possible appeals.

He said Legco would look into the facts in its next meeting, while also warning lawmakers against bullying “lower-ranking” employees who execute the orders of the chairmen of various meetings.

This article was first published in South China Morning Post.