Another Hong Kong pro-democracy lawmaker has been arrested and accused of the same charges that police brought against seven opposition politicians a day earlier.
Hong Kong’s Democratic Party announced on its Facebook page on Nov. 2 that Ted Hui, one of its lawmakers in the city’s Legislative Council (LegCo), was arrested while reporting to a local police station in connection with another case.
Hui is charged with suspicion of committing two offenses under LegCo’s Powers and Privileges Ordinance, including “interference with members in the Legislative Council,” during a legislative session on May 8, according to the announcement. He had gone to the police station for an offense related to a protest in Tuen Mun Park in July.
Hui later confirmed his arrest on his Facebook page. He was released on Nov. 2 after paying HK$1,000 bail ($129).
Police arrested the eight politicians in connection with a May 8 scuffle, when pro-democracy and pro-Beijing lawmakers clashed over the appointment of the LegCo House committee chairperson. The pro-democracy contingent wanted to delay a vote for the position while the pro-Beijing group wanted to install one of its own. The fighting ended when several pro-democracy lawmakers were dragged from the chamber by security guards.
Three current lawmakers of the Democratic Party, Wu Chi-wai, Andrew Wan, and Helena Wong, were among the seven arrested on Nov. 1. All seven were subsequently released on bail.
Hui and the others are due to appear in court on Nov. 5.
He told reporters after his release that Hong Kong has become a “police state,” accusing local police of resorting to criminal charges to interfere with legislative affairs. Hui condemned the arrests and said that the pro-democracy camp will never stop its protests at LegCo, speaking on behalf of the citizens of Hong Kong.
“These arrests mark the latest example of sustained political interference by the Chinese Communist Party in Hong Kong’s democracy, as it seeks to abuse the law to settle political scores,” Rogers said.
“It is clear that Beijing will not be content until it has reduced the Legislative Council to little more than a rubber stamp occupied by party apparatchiks and wholly removed from the people of Hong Kong.”
He also pointed out that so far, only pro-democracy lawmakers have been arrested in connection with the scuffle. This “demonstrates the arbitrary and political nature of these arrests,” he said, adding that governments should sanction individuals “responsible for the erosion of Hong Kong’s freedoms and autonomy.”
The arrests come just four months after Beijing imposed a national security law on the city, which pro-democracy activists have condemned for stifling dissent. Many activists have been arrested in recent weeks, prompting some to flee the territory.
The timing of the arrests is significant, according to Hong Kong-based independent political science scholar Benson Wong Wai-kwok.
He told the Hong Kong edition of The Epoch Times that he believes the arrests were made so that Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam could project an image of being in control of the territory prior to her trip to China, so that she could win over Chinese officials for her possible reelection bid. Hong Kong’s next chief executive election is scheduled for March 2022.
In Hong Kong, candidates for the chief executive are vetted by Beijing, and voted on by an electoral committee made up of mostly pro-Beijing elites.
According to a Hong Kong government press release, Lam is scheduled to visit the Chinese cities of Beijing, Guangzhou, and Shenzhen from Nov. 3 to Nov. 7.
The Hong Kong government made the move just prior to the U.S. presidential election, Wong says, in the hope that U.S. officials would be distracted and not pay attention to events in Hong Kong.
A previous version of this article misrepresented the number of current or former lawmakers who were arrested. One of them has never served as a lawmaker. The Epoch Times regrets the error.