LegCo meetings suspended till at least Oct for building repairs

A working cleaning up outside the Legislative Council building after it was occupied by protesters, on July 2, 2019. ST PHOTO: LIM YAOHUI

HONG KONG • Hong Kong Legislative Council president Andrew Leung Kwan Yuen said yesterday that all LegCo meetings will be halted until at least October due to severe damage caused to the building by radical protesters on Monday night.

This will affect the deliberation of more than 40 items of agenda for the LegCo finance committee involving over HK$70 billion (S$12.19 billion) of appropriation, with most of these items concerning the city's livelihood, according to legislator and chairman of the finance committee Chan Kin Por.

Mr Leung made the announcement after inspecting the damage at the LegCo with members from the LegCo Commission.

He said protesters had caused serious damage to the complex's fire safety, security and communication systems. He said LegCo staff were working hard to repair the damaged facilities, hoping to resume meetings in October. But he admitted it would be difficult to achieve that goal.

Mr Leung also said it was hard to find an alternative venue large enough to accommodate 1,000 people to hold meetings before restoration work was complete.

He said some documents with sensitive information, such as registration data for LegCo admission passes, were lost after the incident. But he stressed that the lost documents contained no identification information.

The case has been reported to the Privacy Commissioner for Personal Data, he added.

He expressed hope that the LegCo could lift the red alert next week. The red alert was issued on Monday night to caution people inside the LegCo Complex to leave immediately for safety reasons when protesters broke into the building.

Hong Kong's higher education sector on Wednesday strongly condemned the acts of vandalism and called on various sectors to adopt an open attitude towards rational conversation to resolve disputes.

In a letter to all members of the University of Hong Kong, the institution's president and vice-chancellor Zhang Xiang said he was disheartened by the violence used and deplored such destructive acts.

"I urge all parties to communicate in a rational and pragmatic manner, and make an effort to resolve differences without resorting to confrontation," the vice-chancellor said.

In a similar appeal, the president of Hang Seng University of Hong Kong, Professor Simon Ho Shun-man, stressed that continual confrontation or violence would not resolve the issue.

Mr Wong Kwan Yu, president of the Hong Kong Federation of Education Workers, denounced some opposition legislators who tried to justify the protesters' behaviour by shifting the blame to the government's perceived deficiencies.

Lawyers in Hong Kong also joined the chorus of voices condemning the violent takeover of the city legislative chambers, saying in a statement that it "had crossed the line of freedom of expression and could be deemed a political act with a hidden agenda".

They called on the legal community to unite and send a clear message that the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region will never tolerate violence.

On Tuesday, the Law Society of Hong Kong - a professional body representing more than 95 per cent of lawyers in the region - issued a statement saying that the protesters had defiantly affronted the rule of law by breaking into the Legislative Council building by force, inflicting bodily harm on others and causing serious damage to the building.

Their statement said there is a line separating the lawful exer-cise of constitutional rights and unlawful activity, which is and should be subject to sanctions and constraints.


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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 05, 2019, with the headline LegCo meetings suspended till at least Oct for building repairs. Subscribe