Hong Kong’s Legislative Council (LegCo) descended into chaos on Monday as lawmakers brawled over chairmanship of the House Committee, which scrutinizes bills introduced into the parliament.
The mayhem reportedly broke out when pro-democracy legislators arrived to see Chan Kin-por, a pro-Beijing lawmaker, on the chairman’s seat surrounded by more than 20 security guards.
Last week, LegCo President Andrew Leung appointed Chan as presiding member of the committee — to oversee the election of a new chairman — replacing democrat Dennis Kwok who had held the position since October 2019.
Kwok was reportedly stripped of his responsibilities after Beijing representatives accused him and other democrats of filibustering, or acting in an obstructive manner that delays legislative proceedings.
The election of a new chairman is expected to pave the path for a number of bills, including one that criminalizes forms of insult to the Chinese national anthem.
The scuffle went on for a few minutes, with lawmakers pointing and yelling at each other across the room.
Some reportedly shouted “Chan Kin-por is cheating!” and held signs that said “CCP [Chinese Communist Party] tramples HK legislature.”
At least one person fell to the ground and was injured during the ruckus, the BBC reported.
Pro-democracy lawmakers were eventually removed from the chamber and proceedings resumed.
Starry Lee, leader of the pro-Beijing DAB — the largest party in the body — was eventually elected as chairman after securing 40 votes.
However, opposing lawmakers refused to recognize her election.
“As you can see this is an illegitimate meeting, without any legal grounds, and Chan Kin-por in fact has exercised illegitimate power and so we don’t count Starry Lee as the chairman of the House Committee,” said Tanya Chan, who was removed from the chamber, according to CNN.
Monday marks Lee’s re-election as chairman of the House Committee. Earlier this month, chaotic scenes already filled the chamber when she tried to take charge of a meeting, according to the Hong Kong Free Press.
Democrats reportedly chanted “Starry Lee has acted outside her powers” and “Starry Lee has seized power.” During the rumble, democrat Andrew Wan apparently sustained an injury that forced him to leave the chamber on a stretcher.
As chair of the last House Committee, Lee has the power to address the backlog of legislative matters that had piled up due to the standstill over the election, Leung said. The national anthem law is scheduled to be tabled on May 27.
“I know that we have some disagreements over certain points. If people have different views … they have the right to seek clarification, even through the courts,” Lee said, according to RTHK.
Feature Images via Getty Images