Hong Kong’s Legislative Council (LegCo) ejected outspoken pro-communist lawmaker Junius Ho from a meeting on Tuesday after he said pro-democracy colleague Claudia Mo was “used to eating foreign sausage,” a derogatory reference to her British husband.
LegCo was in the midst of electing a chair and deputy chair for its powerful House Committee when Ho erupted at Mo, who had just objected to a procedural point he raised. Ho’s insult would be considered crude and sexist in any language, but it was particularly ugly when uttered in Cantonese because it recalled an insulting term long used against women who have sex with foreign men.
As recounted by Coconuts Hong Kong, the ensuing fracas in the LegCo chamber resulted in the towering irony of the Chinese Communist Party’s man Ho invoking his free speech rights to defend his insult at Mo:
Ho’s comments prompted outraged responses from pro-democracy lawmakers across the committee room, including People Power lawmaker Ray Chan, who yelled that the comments were “harmful to women,” and Civic Party lawmaker Jeremy Tam, who urged female lawmakers from the pro-Beijing side to ask themselves if Ho’s comments were offensive.
After being asked by [meeting president Dennis] Kwok repeatedly if he would apologize for his comments and retract them, Ho refused, saying he was exercising “freedom of expression.”
He also said that “during the meeting, Cheng Chung-tai has just told me eat s**t, and Lam Cheuk-ting called me scum.”
Kwok then asked the LegCo security guards to escort Ho out of the room as pro-democracy lawmakers banged their desks and yelled for Ho to get out.
Lam refused to apologize or recant for calling Ho “scum” and departed the chamber on his own, telling Kwok he did not want to make his job any more difficult. Cheng retracted his comments and remained for the rest of the meeting.
For her part, Claudia Mo denounced Junius Ho’s verbal assault as “blatantly sexist and racist,” and said it “amounts to sexual harassment.”
“I just couldn’t believe that in this legislature that we could have somebody who could go that low, and I want to put it on the record that this person is just unfit to stay on as a legislator, and he’s a shame to the legal profession in Hong Kong,” she said.
Mo was even more forceful in denouncing Ho on Twitter, where everyone is more forceful at denouncing everything. She called him a “piece of rubbish” that should be “trashed.” She indicated she would press her complaint against Ho with both LegCo officials and Hong Kong professional organizations.
Mo, 62, is married to veteran Asia-based British journalist Philip Bowring. Mo herself was a journalist before she became a politician. The couple has two sons.
Mo and Ho have clashed many times before, including a memorable joust two years ago when she introduced a motion to censure him for saying that advocates for Hong Kong independence should be “killed mercilessly.”
Ho is suspected of doing a lot more than talking about violence against democracy activists these days, as he was caught on camera in July shaking hands with people who appeared to be leaders of the white-shirted mob that infamously attacked protesters and bystanders at the Yuen Long railroad station.