Hong Kong: Lawmakers brawl over anthem bill

Lawmakers fight inside the Hong Kong legislature on Monday, May 18, 2020.
Lawmakers fight inside the Hong Kong legislature on Monday, May 18, 2020. © AFP / FRANCE 24

Pro-democracy and pro-government lawmakers fought with each other in the Hong Kong parliament on Monday, May 18, part of a long-running dispute over a controversial law that would ban insulting China’s national anthem.

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As lawmakers scuffled, protesting pro-democracy MPs were dragged from the chamber by security guards.

The fighting took place in a session of Hong Kong's House Committee, a body that helps scrutinise new bills.

The committee has been without a leader since October, meaning no laws can be voted on, including the bill to criminalises ridiculing the Chinese anthem.

Pro-democracy MPs have sought to block a new chair being elected to prevent the bill being passed. But on Monday, pro-government lawmakers installed their own stand-in to head the committee, something the pro-democracy MPs say is illegal.

“The reality in Hong Kong today is that whenever Beijing, whenever (Hong Kong chief executive) Carrie Lam and the pro-establishment don’t like something, they will do whatever it takes, including breaking the system that we have, the rules that we have,” said Dennis Kwok, a Democratic legislator.

“They will twist, they will tear down, they will burn down whatever is in their way. The price of freedom is constant vigilance.”

It was the second time fighting has broken out in the legislature over the controversial law this month following similar scenes on May 8.

 

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