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Starry Lee re-elected to chair LegCo House Committee

By He Shusi and Li Bingcun | chinadaily.com.cn | Updated: 2020-05-18 21:03

HONG KONG – Breaking an impasse of nearly seven months, Starry Lee Wai-king, incumbent chairperson of the Legislative Council's (LegCo) House Committee, was reelected to the post on Monday with 40 votes.

Lee's election was preceded by hour-long chaos in LegCo. Scuffles broke out on Monday between opposition and pro-government legislators in Hong Kong in a row over procedures with the leadership of the crucial House Committee at stake.

At least 11 opposition lawmakers had been expelled from the chamber by noon before a semblance of order could be restored around 11:50 am after nearly an hour of chaos. No opposition lawmaker voted in Lee's election.

The House Committee's role is to scrutinize bills before a second reading in LegCo and has built up a backlog after failing to elect a chairperson since late last year.

Meeting the press later in LegCo, Lee said that she would chair the meetings of the House Committee in an orderly and fairly manner in full compliance with the Rules of Procedure.

She said the she would guide the important committee to fulfill its constitutional duty under the Basic Law in clearing the backlog of bills. The bills will be processed in order of priority, together with the election of a vice-chairman of the committee, Lee said.

Lee said that most members supported and trusted her despite the chaotic election process.

If they have different ideas, Lee said they can seek rulings through other ways, including judicial reviews.

Opposition members stonewalled the election process for more than six months by filibustering in 17 meetings, resulting in a backlog of important bills.

An eighteenth meeting was called on Monday to try and break the impasse over electing the next chairman.

Soon after legislator Chan Kin-por was at the rostrum around 10.30 am to chair the meeting as instructed by LegCo President Andrew Leung Kwan-yuen, more than 10 opposition lawmakers clamored to confront him. A posse of about a dozen security staff positioned near the rostrum struggled to keep them at bay.

When the meeting started at 11 am as scheduled, the group charged toward the rostrum. They clashed with security staff, shouting slogans questioning Chan's legitimacy to chair the session. When security staff failed to restore order, Chan suspended the meeting after 10 minutes.

Chan, who chairs LegCo's Finance Committee, was picked to preside over the meeting in place of opposition lawmaker Dennis Kwok Wing-hang who has been immensely criticized for failing to facilitate the election in previous 17 meetings.

Last Friday, the LegCo president accepted the legal advice of two leading barristers to designate Chan as the host of Monday's meeting.

Fourteen bills and more than 20 subsidiary regulations have been put on hold owing to the election deadlock, creating a semi-paralysis of the legislature.

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