HONG KONG (AP) — Brawls broke out at Hong Kong’s parliament on Friday, with security guards banishing several pro-democracy lawmakers including one who was carried out by medics on a stretcher after he was injured.
Angers flared after a pro-Beijing lawmaker introduced herself as chair of a committee meeting to try to end a months-long impasse that has bring about a backlog of legislation, including a controversial bill that would criminalize abuse of the Chinese national anthem in the semi-autonomous city.
Pro-Beijing lawmakers have faulted pro-democracy lawmaker Dennis Kwok, the deputy chair of the House Committee, of stalling its work by blocking the selection of a new chair for more than six months. China openly rebuked Kwok last month for holding up matters that affect public interest, sparkling protests that it was prying in Hong Kong’s internal affairs.
It occur on Friday, pro-Beijing lawmaker Starry Lee, saying she has the right as the previous committee chair to chair the meeting, occupied the seat more than an hour before its scheduled start. Security staff and other pro-Beijing lawmakers bordered the bench to try to keep a large group of pro-democracy lawmakers at bay.
The two wings shouted at each other, with each camp displayed placards condemning either Lee or Kwok. Scuffles broke out when Lee called the meeting to order, with pro-democracy lawmakers rushing the bench as security guards shoved back. The guards carried out several pro-democracy lawmakers, including Eddie Chu and Ray Chan, who were ordered to leave as a result of disorderly conduct.
“I have not seized power, I am the incumbent chairperson of the House Committee,” said Lee, urging lawmakers to take their seats.