Two lawmakers who want Hong Kong to split from China wrestled with security in the city’s Legislative Council on Wednesday, with one of them being dragged from the chamber, as fears grow Beijing will step in over the saga.
There are widespread concerns in the semi-autonomous city that China is tightening its grip, fueling an independence movement.
In the third consecutive week of chaos in the legislature, pro-independence lawmakers Baggio Leung and Yau Wai-ching entered the chamber despite being banned from doing so, pending the result of a judicial review into whether they can take up their seats.
Yau ran up to the lectern at the front, set up her own microphone and proceeded to read out her oath of office.
She was then surrounded by female members of security and carried from the chamber when she tried to resist.
Baggio was flanked by other pro-democracy lawmakers who pushed and shoved against at least five security officers who surrounded them in a cordon and tried to push them out.
The meeting was adjourned after security failed to eject Baggio from the chamber.
Pro-Beijing lawmakers shouted: “They are not qualified to take their oaths!” while the democratic camp chanted for them to be allowed to take their pledges.
“My mission today was to complete the oath,” Yau told reporters after she was taken out.
“I did complete my oath today.”
Yau and Baggio won seats in citywide polls last month, in which a number of new lawmakers advocating self-determination or independence swept to victory.
But they are yet to be sworn in to the Legislative Council — Hong Kong’s lawmaking body.
Their oath-taking was put on hold and they have been barred from meetings, pending a judicial review into their first attempt at taking the pledge three weeks ago.
At that ceremony, they draped themselves in “Hong Kong is not China” flags and altered the wording of their pledges, including derogatory terms and expletives.
The judicial review, brought by the city’ leader and the justice secretary, into whether they should be disqualified will take place at Hong Kong’s High Court Thursday.
Local media reported on Wednesday that China’s top legislative body will issue its own interpretation of the city’s constitution in a bid to bar the two lawmakers.
Asked whether she was concerned about Beijing stepping in, Yau said: “My concern is the destruction of ‘one country two systems’,” referring to Hong Kong’s semi-autonomous status.
Pro-Beijing lawmaker Starry Lee blasted the pair for the Legco scenes Wednesday.
“Their behavior today is unacceptable…the Legco in Hong Kong does not allow violence.”