The National Anthem Bill continues to divide the house committee in substance and process, as pro-democracy council members protest the legality of Chairwoman Starry Lee overseeing the committee.
Photo courtesy of Asstinker at Wikimedia Commons.
Hong Kong’s pro-establishment lawmakers continue to push the divisive National Anthem Bill, which would make it possible to convict persons who insult the national anthem with a fine of up to HK$50,000 and three years imprisonment. Three years is the same penalty for ‘Wounding or inflicting grievous bodily harm’ (Cap 212. 19) and ‘Administering poison, etc., with intent to injure, etc.”(Cap 212. 23).
Dissenters against the bill have pushed back against Starry Lee, Chairwoman of the Democratic Alliance for the Betterment and Progress of Hong Kong’s (DAB), as she has maintained her role as incumbent chair of the House Committee, after a pan-democrat-initiated delay of the election for a new chairperson, which lasted for about a month and caused a backlog of bills.
Singing properly now Hong Kong’s priority
Due to the backlog, Chief Executive Carrie Lam has directed Chairwoman Lee to give the bill top priority before the current legislative term ends in July.
Lam has dismissed concerns about the National Anthem Bill stating, “I think that protecting the dignity of the national anthem is the obligation and responsibility of the Hong Kong government.”
The pro-democracy camp has questioned the urgency of the National Anthem Law, as there has been debate over the legality of any further meeting chaired by pro-establishment Chairwoman Lee.
On 8 May, IT lawmaker Charles Mok challenged Chairwoman Lee during a chaotic House Committee meeting: “I don’t accept that this is a proper meeting. It has been sort of convened unlawfully. So, the solution is that you need to come down from your seat. You need to withdraw your candidacy.”
Mok went on to ask Lee to give Dennis Kwok the ability to speak during the meeting, as his microphone had been turned off.
Kwok has been criticised by the pro-establishment camp for allowing filibustering to take place, as lawmakers debate the legality of Starry Lee’s right to preside over meetings.
Legco president Andrew Leung has since replaced Dennis Kwok with finance committee chairman Chan Kin-Por who will oversee the election of a new house committee chair by the power of article 92 of the council’s rules of procedure, which states: “In any matter not provided for in these Rules of Procedure, the practice and procedure to be followed in the Council shall be such as may be decided by the President who may, if he thinks fit, be guided by the practice and procedure of other legislatures.”
The usage of the article 92 has been criticised by pan-democrats, as they argued Leung’s use of the law was unnecessary since there are clear rules and procedures on how to perform an election of a house committee chair.
The election for the house committee chair was held yesterday, which accepted no points of order. The National Anthem Bill will continue to remain at the top of LegCo’s priority, along with 10 other bills, to be discussed Wednesday next week.
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