A fine of HK$3,300 to be slapped on absent lawmakers

Hong Kong’s legislature has today passed a bill to allow the Legco to impose financial penalties on lawmakers who are absent from meetings and to allow lawmakers to vote remotely on important matters.

Previously, lawmakers must attend full council or finance committee meetings in person, despite Legco panels and subcommittees have been holding virtual meetings since last year.

The newly passed bill will allow lawmakers to vote remotely on important matters under exceptional circumstances such as the pandemic, in which the venue to hold meetings would no longer be limited to the chamber only.

The exceptional circumstances include a public health emergency or a public danger situation where the use of the Legco complex is rendered impossible.

The bill has also empowered the Legco to impose financial penalties on lawmakers who are absent from meetings without a valid reason, or who engage in gross disorderly conduct.

The Legco will also be able to deprive a misbehaved lawmaker’s remuneration and allowance in respect of their disorderly conduct.

Under the new rules, lawmakers will be fined a day’s salary — HK$3,300 — if they are absent without a valid reason from a meeting that was adjourned due to the lack of a quorum.

Chief Secretary John Lee Ka-chiu said the new rules will have a deterrent effect against lawmakers who abused their power given in the LegCo Rules of Procedure to filibuster meetings.

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