Anti-communist legislators heckled Hong Kong chief executive Carrie Lam for the second day in a row on Thursday.
Some of the lawmakers said they were mistreated by security guards during the protest, motivated in part by the savage beating of a well-known activist on the streets of Hong Kong and the mysterious death of a teenage protester.
Lam was literally chased out of the legislature, known locally as LegCo, on Wednesday when she tried to give her Policy Address, a function similar to the way America’s president addresses Congress in the State of the Union speech. She came back on Thursday to hold a Q&A session for the two hundred-plus policies on her agenda.
On Wednesday night, Hong Kong protest leader Jimmy Sham of the Civil Human Rights Front (CHRF) was attacked by a group of “at least four non-ethnic Chinese assailants” in the Mong Kok district and beaten to the ground with hammers and wrenches. Bystanders said the attackers brandished knives at them when they attempted to halt the beating.
Sham was reportedly struck in the head and arms by his assailants and was found lying in a pool of blood, but he was said to be in stable condition at the hospital with no sign of brain injury as of Thursday morning.
According to his CHRF colleague Figo Chan, as Sham was departing in an ambulance his last words were, “Five demands, not one less” – a favored slogan of the protest movement. Sham was attacked and beaten with clubs on a previous occasion during the Hong Kong uprising, but never before this severely. Adding insult to injury, pro-democracy legislator Tanya Chan noted that the assailants from Sham’s previous beating were never arrested.
When Carrie Lam arrived at LegCo for her Q&A session on Thursday, she was greeted with chants of “Five demands, not one less” from legislators and placards that depicted her with bloody hands.
In addition to police brutality and gang violence like the attack on Jimmy Sham, pro-democracy legislators carried funeral flowers to symbolize the death of a 15-year-old student named Chan Yin-lam, a teenage activist whose body was found floating naked in the sea three days after she disappeared on September 19.
Chan’s death was officially ruled a suicide, but many suspect she was murdered, or at least believe the police have not properly investigated her disappearance and demise. Student activists believe the last known campus CCTV footage of Chan was deceptively edited before it was released to the public, while officials say the edits were performed only to protect the identity of unrelated persons captured in the footage and police have seen the unedited video.
When pro-democracy lawmakers asked LegCo President Andrew Leung to permit a moment of silence in honor of Chan Yin-lam, he refused and ejected three of the legislators from the chamber, including Claudia Mo, who is currently pressing a complaint against firebrand pro-Beijing lawmaker Junius Ho for using “blatantly sexist and racist” language against her.
Another legislator, Ted Hui, was ejected for yelling “How are you still qualified to be the chief executive?” at Lam. He was soon joined by Kwok Ka-ki, who was ejected for asking Lam to apologize for causing the protest movement.
Things snowballed from there, with more aggressive questions, shouts of protest, and placards directed at Lam, countered with objections and accusations from pro-Beijing legislators, until the session was suspended, resumed, and finally canceled after more ejections.
The 12 lawmakers ejected from the chamber complained that security guards handled them roughly, as reported by the Hong Kong Free Press:
After the session with Chief Executive Carrie Lam was cut short on Thursday, legislator Au Nok-hin attempted to chase after her. Au said a female security guard then tried to wrestle him to the ground. As a result, his left arm was injured and left bleeding.
“This is unacceptable – I am stripped of my right to protest,” he said. “There was no need for the security guard to do this.”
He said he would consider reporting the case to the police.
Democratic Party lawmaker Lam Cheuk-ting also said he was shoved by security guards in an attempt to prevent him from protesting.
“I was conducting a peaceful protest. I only had a placard. LegCo security guards were acting like the government’s personal security, and Carrie Lam has more than ten guards to herself,” he said.
Lawmaker Claudia Mo said that four to five male guards used their arms to push away Civic Party lawmaker Tanya Chan.
“Even if [Chan] was not protesting, it would still be unacceptable for four to five men to surround a woman,” Mo said. “It would be very dangerous if she fell.”
Chan said disproportionate force was used with the intention to injure lawmakers.
For their part, pro-Beijing lawmakers complained it was the “worst Q&A session ever conducted” because the pro-democracy legislators were so disruptive. They said serious discussion of Lam’s policy proposals was important for the economic health of Hong Kong and should not have been thwarted by political theater.