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Politicians ejected in Hong Kong debate on Chinese anthem bill

Zen Soo, Associated Press

Three pro-democracy politicians were ejected from Hong Kong’s legislative chamber on Thursday morning, disrupting the start of a second day of debate on a contentious bill that would criminalise insulting or abusing the Chinese national anthem.

The legislature’s president, Andrew Leung, suspended the meeting minutes after it began and ejected politician Eddie Chu for holding up a sarcastic placard that read “Best Chairperson, Starry Lee”.

A second pro-democratic lawmaker was ejected for yelling after the meeting resumed, and then a third was ejected after rushing forward with a large plastic bottle in a cloth bag that spilled its brownish contents on the floor in front of the president’s raised dais.

Outside the chamber, he said Mr Leung had objected to his placard on Wednesday that called Lee an “illegal chairperson” and so he made a new one that called her the best chairperson instead.

“Actually, we have wanted to use any method to stop this national anthem law getting passed by this legislature, which is basically controlled by the Chinese Communist Party, because the law is just another way of putting pressure on Hong Kong people,” Mr Chu said.

Ms Lee was recently elected chair of a key committee that sent the anthem bill to the full legislature for consideration.

Her election, which the pro-democracy opposition contends was illegal, ended a months-long filibuster that had prevented the committee from acting on the bill.

Mr Chu was carried out by security guards, even as fellow pro-democracy politicians protested his removal and tried to stop it.

After the meeting restarted, a second pro-democracy politician, Ray Chan, started yelling as Mr Leung explained his decision to remove Mr Chu, leading the legislative president to suspend the meeting again and order Mr Chan ejected, too.

Other pro-democracy politicians surrounded Mr Chan, who then hid under a table, as security officers tried to remove him.

He eventually was carried out by the officers.

Mr Chu’s ejection disrupted the start of the debate on a contentious bill that would criminalise insulting or abusing the Chinese national anthem. (Vincent Yu/AP)

A longer suspension followed the ejection of Ted Hui, who kicked the plastic bottle toward the president’s dais after security officers tussled with him and it fell from his hands.

Members left the chamber, security guards sprayed disinfectant and cleaning workers arrived to wipe the carpet.

Then a group of firefighters in full protective gear entered and collected evidence.

They appeared to take samples from the floor using swabs.

Mr Hui later described the contents as a rotten plant, and said he wanted Mr Leung to feel and smell the rotting of Hong Kong’s civilisation and rule of law, and of the “one country, two systems” framework that democracy activists feel is under attack by China’s ruling Communist Party.

“I wanted him to taste it, unfortunately it (fell) on the ground because I was hit by security guards,” he said.