Jasper Tsang Yok-sing has refused to step down as president of Hong Kong’s Legislative Council after it emerged he joined the discussion in a Whatsapp chat group with pro-establishment lawmakers on their strategy before the vote on the electoral reform package last week.
“I haven’t done anything which has violated the neutrality of Legco president,” said Tsang, speaking after the Legco meeting this morning.
Pan-democratic lawmakers are outraged at Tsang’s participation in the Whatsapp chat. “He’s the referee [of Legco], but at the same time he’s the coach for the pro-establishment camp,” said Raymond Chan Chi-chuen of People Power. James To Kun-sun from the Democratic Party said Tsang’s active planning in the group chat violated his neutral role.
In response to a possible vote of no-confidence in him, Tsang said it was up to the lawmakers to decide if he should stay as Legco’s president.
Tsang is a founding chairman of the Beijing-friendly Democratic Alliance for Betterment of Hong Kong – which in 2005 merged with the Hong Kong Progressive Alliance to form the Democratic Alliance for the Betterment and Progress of Hong Kong (DAB).
According to leaked messages, Tsang suggested lawmakers delay their speeches to avoid pan-democrats controlling the timing for the vote on the package.
The messages were published in Chinese language newspaper Oriental Daily and later confirmed by pro-establishment lawmakers as reported by SCMP. Here’s the translation of parts of their conversation:
The legislative council resumed at 9am on Thursday, June 18. The pan-democrats were not speaking, causing the meeting to progress faster than expected. Christopher Chung Shu-kun suggested initiating the vote earlier.
Christopher Chung Shu-kun 09:21
If nobody from the pro-establishment camp speaks before noon, we can vote.
Jeffrey Lam Kin-fung 09:25
Endurance! Several pan-dems who haven’t spoken yet are in the (council hall).
Jasper Tsang Yok-sing 09:27
Whoever from the pro-establishment camp really wants to speak should do so earlier. Don’t make it seem too forced.
Christopher Chung Shu-kun 09:21
We should put up with them until they’ve all spoken.
Tam Yiu-chung 09:44
We’re ready to vote whenever. But I’ll understand if someone really wants to speak out. Nine pan-dems will speak, but they want to be the last to do so, so we can’t retaliate. DAB will have four people holding back for now, just in case.
Yiu Si-wing is worried that Albert Chan Wai-yip will suggest adjourning the meeting. He proposes delaying the voting until Friday.
Yiu Si-wing 09:48
If Biggie [aka Albert Chan] motions to adjourn the meeting, each legislator should speak for 15 minutes. The pan-dems can control about six to seven minutes, we need to prepare to take back the control, and delay until tomorrow morning! [Yeah ... Young Post isn't sure what they meant here either!]
Chan Kin-por 09:48
The pan-dems are so full of themselves. They’re not even here. Those who really want to speak should get it over with, then we can really vote.
Jeffrey Lam Kin-fung 09:25 09:53
We should stop after the two who are lined up to speak right now are done. Vote! Force them to come back.
Christopher Chung Shu-kun 09:54
This is fun!
Tam Yiu-chung 09:54
If Biggie motions to adjourn and the pan-dems don’t join him, they’ll be finished really soon. But in case they do join, we can delay the vote until tomorrow morning. That’ll satisfy everyone who wants to speak.
They heard the ice-cream truck, the air-con was too cold, and other reasons why pro-Beijing lawmakers walked out of the vote
Jasper Tsang gives tips and suggests holding back their speeches. Despite expectations, Albert Chan only speaks briefly.
Christopher Chung Shu-kan 09:59
Biggie walking away is a trap.
Jeffrey Lam Kin-fung 10:00
Let play! [sic] Go Go Go!
Jasper Tsang Yok-sing 10:01
Not sure what they [pan-democrats] are planning to do. The top priority is to hold back your speeches.
At this point, Christopher Chung sees what he thinks might be the flash of a camera, and warns the others to keep their mobile phone screens hidden from view.
Tam Yiu-chung 10:04
It’s highly suspicious if nine of them plan to vote without speaking, either they are changing stance or they have other plans.
Wong Kwok-kin 10:04
Stop the speeches. If they don’t speak, we’ll proceed to the vote. Otherwise we’ll lose control [of the situation].
Christopher Chung Shu-kan 10:06
Then, let’s hurry up and vote!
Alice Mak Mei-kuen 10:06
Those of us from the Federation of Trade Unions will hold until the end, but if we vote right now, it won’t matter that we didn’t get to speak.
Martin Liao Cheung-kong 10:06
Suspect that the four bandits [filibustering] will adjourn the meeting and speak afterwards. Wong Yuk-man told me yesterday he cares a lot about this speech and has prepared six to seven drafts. Said he wasn't going to get angry, but wants to say his piece.
Chan Kin-por 10:07
Reporters said no one would give it a damn if Biggie calls to adjourn, don’t worry too much, let’s vote.
Jasper Tsang Yok-sing 10:08
Whoever is likely to change their stance in the opposite camp have mostly made their stances known in their speeches, so it’s unlikely to change. They should be planning to take action after the vote. Make sure Biggie speaks first. Save your resources.
Christopher Chung Shu-kun 10:34
We should vote before 2pm, or the meeting will be adjourned. Don’t just speak for the sake of speaking. We should speak, or not speak, according to our strategy. [We don't want to waste our opportunities to speak, which will give the pan-dems the upper hand.]
Chan Yuen-han 10:35
Please calm down! [We don't want to lose the upper hand.] (emoji sunflower, smile, turtle)
Jasper Tsang Yok-sing 10:44
I’ve heard that most pan-dems don’t intend to adjourn the meeting. Let’s see.
Jasper Tsang Yok-sing 10:46
Please coordinate, try your best to avoid pressing the button to request to speak. Raise your hand instead.
Jasper Tsang Yok-sing 10:46
A suggestion from a good-hearted person: tell our lawmakers to buy [covers that block your phone's screen so others can't see it], messages get photographed every day!
No action from the pan-democrats. Pro-establishment camp stop speaking in hopes of forcing Albert Chan to speak.
Andrew Leung Kwan-yuen 11:35
Wait for Biggie to speak.
Ip Kwok-him 11:36
Don’t speak, force Biggie and Wu Chi-wai [to speak].
Jasper Tsang Yok-sing 11:40
Best to make Biggie speak first.
Tam Yiu-chung 11:41
After Biggie speaks, we’ll have a clearer idea of the situation and we can coordinate our turns to speak then.
Ip Kwok-him 11:42
Biggie is the only one motioning to adjourn right now. No one is speaking
The pan-dems don’t take action to adjourn the meeting, and voting is about to begin.
Tam Yiu-chung 12:06
After the vote, everyone should go to the press stand to give a statement. The pan-dems are going to make such a fuss.
Ip Kwok-him 12:08
Once the results are announced, the opposition party will rush to the rostrum to protest. The president will adjourn the meeting, and all of us pro-establishment lawmakers should head immediately to the press stand.
Ip Kwok-him 12:15
The opposition party may cancel any protests. After the press conference, let’s all meet up at the square
Jasper Tsang Yok-sing 12:15
Not cancel, but [delay them] until after the meeting is adjourned. You could all just leave then.
Wong Ting-kwong asks Jasper Tsang to be more clear with his advice and directions for them.
Ip Kwok-him 12:18
Let’s just all go to the press stand after the meeting. Who cares about the opposition party?
Chan Kam-lam 12:21
Voting! Please come back!
Ip Kwok-him 12:22
Kin-por come back quickly.
The bell rings for the voting to begin. Jeffrey Lam Kin-fung’s motion to suspend the meeting to wait for Lau Wong-fat was rejected, and Ip Kwok-him decides to tell everyone to leave the hall to force the meeting to be suspended. But there were no messages in the WhatsApp chat about their plans.
Jasper Tsang Yok-sing 12:39
What were you playing at?!
Chan Kam-lam 12:44
Two words: “We failed”!