HK leader Carrie Lam may not deliver annual speech in person as violent protests put Legislative Council on high alert

09-Oct-2019 Intellasia | | 2:24 PM Print This Post

Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor may not deliver her annual policy address in person next Wednesday as the city’s Legislative Council remains on high alert amid violence between police and anti-government protesters.

Lam is expected to make her annual policy address on October 16 in Legco, but said on Tuesday it was not up to her whether she delivered it in person. It depended on “what happens outside the building”, she said on Tuesday.

Lam said the policy address would not be “the usual type” because she and other officials have been occupied by the ongoing protests.

Legco president Andrew Leung Kwan-yuen, meanwhile, urged calm ahead of Lam’s speech, especially after the government spent HK$40 million repairing damage caused by protesters in July.

“We hope that the meeting can be calmer and smoother, and that people can give us a chance to operate,” Leung said.

“We have, in the backlog, a lot of bills and funding proposals that matter to people’s livelihoods … I hope people can calm down so that Hong Kong can come out from the depths.”

On July 1, hours after Hong Kong marked the 22nd anniversary of its handover from British to Chinese rule, hundreds of masked protesters stormed the Legco complex, vandalised its chamber, sprayed black paint on the city’s emblem, smashed dozens of glass panes, as well as damaged electronic systems and portraits of current and former presidents.

Repairs are mostly completed, except for portraits and glass panes on the building’s exterior.

The Legco Commission, chaired by Leung, met in the building on Tuesday the first time since repair work began.

After the meeting, Leung conceded that the government did not have a contingency plan in the event that the legislature was again stormed by protesters before Lam’s speech next week.

Asked if Lam would deliver her policy address elsewhere if Legco was again vandalised or besieged in the coming week, Leung said: “If lawmakers cannot come in and out the building freely and safely, we cannot hold any meeting … We don’t have a contingency plan.”

On Friday, Lam invoked the colonial-era Emergency Regulations Ordinance to impose a ban on the wearing of masks in public assemblies, provoking a weekend of violent clashes between police and protesters.

Pan-democrats criticised Lam for bypassing and disrespecting the legislature, as lawmakers could only scrutinise the new law through the so-called “negative vetting” rule.

Asked if legislators would be able to amend the ban through “negative vetting”, Leung said Legco’s legal service division was looking into the matter.

In reference to the ordinance, which was last used in 1967, he added: “It has not been used for a long time, so the legal issues need to be clarified.”

Dismissing pan-democrats’ accusations that the government was circumventing the legislature, Leung said more than 100 legislations were enacted through “negative vetting” each year.

The legislature would issue an amber alert on Wednesday and Thursday next week, the president said, meaning all visitors would have to pass security checks to observe meetings. Other public services, including guided tours, would be suspended. Legco’s two-tier alert system states that the complex must close down if the higher red-level alert is issued.

Leung noted that Lam’s policy address would mark the start of the last year of lawmakers’ four-year term.


Category: Hong Kong

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