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Tuesday, 13 March 2007
I spoke before Legco
Mood:  energetic

I spoke at a Panel meeting of the Legco (Legislative Council, sort of parliament of Hong Kong) on 12 March 2007.  The incidence that meeting addressed went like this.  The public radio/TV service of Hong Kong known as Radio Television Hong Kong (RTHK) broadcasted a gay-friendly TV documentary about half years ago.  It attracted some complaints, many of which probably came from the Christian Right, to the Broadcasting Authority (BA) and subsequently the Authority ruled that RTHK was biased in the presentation because the interviewed gay couples expressed their wish for same-sex marraige but the opinion against same-sex marriage was not included.  That ruling raised great concern among human rights organisations for its frank discrimination against homosexuals.  The Legco Panel on Information Technology and Broadcasting decided to hold a meeting to discuss this issue and invited organisations and individuals to submit written papers and to present their views in person.  So the vice-president of the Spiritual Seekers Society (SSS), who is also a volunteer working for the Amnesty International (AI), drafted a paper to support RTHK and asked me to edit and send it to Legco.  The Panel then invited two representatives from SSS, among other some 30 organisations, to attend and speak on the 12 March meeting.  I wrote an invitation to all SSS members to see if they can be representatives but nobody showed interest.  So I must attend myself, with the support from my wife Flora by sitting next to me at the meeting. 

I haven't thought of the opportunity to speak before the law-making authority, though the speech will be limited to a mere 2 minutes.  I was so nervous that I did not sleep well the night before; I always hate speech or leading anything or being the focus in a group of people.  I have to do it anyway; the seats for SSS cannot be vacant.  The meeting starts at 1 pm and the time allocated to each organisation is just 2 minutes, so in the morning I wrote a short draft in Chinese (the long paper sent to Legco cannot be squeezed into 2 minutes).  The place is the highest law-making authority of HK, so I wore a suite.  I seldom wear a suite, only arriving at Legco that I found few delegates wore suites, which made me look a bit out-dated.  I and Flora arrived at the Legco building at 12:45pm as instructed.  The building was opened in 1912. The two-storey granite building is neo-classical in style supported by Ionic columns.  We circled around the Legco building to find the entrance.  The outside of the building was familiar to us but we have never thought of the need to walk throught its entrance one day.  "Entrance for staff"..."Entrance for members (legislators)"...finally we found the "Entrance for public." 

 A lady at the counter greeted us with a friendly smile and asked for our names and organisation identity.  She scanned her list for a while.  Frustrated, she asked us to look up our own names on her list as there were too many delegates attending.  There are security guards here and there inside the building.  The interior is fully paved with thick and soft red carpet.  Many fixatures are in gold colour.  We were led to a waiting room where I met many familiar faces of various gay-rights and progressive Christian groups.  A sitting plan was provided for us to find our seats with ease.  Thick background documents were provided.  Everything were so well-planned. 

Eventually, I entered the grand chamber which I used to be able to see only through the TV.  I sat on the seat of the banker Li Kwok-po.  I knew it because there is a name label on every legislator's seat.  To my left was the seat of democrat Martin Lee, now being occupied by an AI delegate, to her left was another AI delegate who is also our SSS vice-president.  Each seat is well equipped with a straw-coloured leather chair which can be slided forward and backward but cannot be moved in other directions, a wooden bench which is covered with matching straw-coloured leather, a clip-microphone, and a ear-piece for listening to the interpreter.  Even the lid of the glass of water provided and the glass holder are gold in colour.  My wife was on my right, on the seat of Cheng Jing-han, the famous radio phone show anchor who later entered Legco via direct election.  Cheng Jing-han was the chairman of that Panel.  Legislators present were Emily Lau, Chan Wai-yip, and Tong Ka-wah, all democrats, all are against BA's ruling. 

 I noticed two SSS members observing from the public section, which was a great support for me.  I was the third speaker, right after the AI speaker, our SSS vice-president.  I am a slow-thinker and my presentation skill is just terrible, so I only knew how to read out my draft word by word.  I was impressed by the many good presentations by delegates of other organisations.  Among the some 30 groups and individuals, only 3 groups and 2 individuals supported BA's ruling, all of them from the Christian Right; they probably felt a bit lonely.  The most impressive are the incisive comments made by the legislaters.  They made their points very clearly, and were always up to the point, piercing into the heart of the issue.  Finally, Emily Lau's motion, which called for reversal of BA's ruling, was successfully passed.  Although that motion has no binding power on BA, it must be a great encouragement to the RTHK staff, and other media workers.  We are all pleased (except that 5 BA fans).  How do I know that I am doing the right thing to support gay rights?  Simple, we UUs stand on the side of love!

When I returned home, I found somebody had already posted the link of Legco recordings to the Liberal Christian Forum here and praised the speech of SSS for clarity.  That was a great encouragement.  The SSS vice-president called me up later to say how excited she was.  Me too.  That was my first speech before the "parliament" of Hong Kong. 

Alex

(The speech of SSS can be found in SSS Forum)


Posted by ssshk at 12:01 AM JST
Updated: Wednesday, 23 April 2008 3:16 PM JST

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