What’s that smell? Lawmakers hold their noses, leave meeting after Ted Hui hurls brown, foul-smelling bag towards chairman’s seat

A brown bag with a foul-smelling odor is left on the floor of the Legislative Council meeting chamber on May 28, 2020. Photo: Apple Daily live feed
A brown bag with a foul-smelling odor is left on the floor of the Legislative Council meeting chamber on May 28, 2020. Photo: Apple Daily live feed

With a potentially far-reaching national security law looming overhead, Hong Kong isn’t looking—or smelling—quite so rosy these days.

We mean that literally.

On Wednesday morning, a Legislative Council meeting was suspended after lawmaker Ted Hui rushed to the front of the chamber and dumped a mysterious brown bag on the floor.

Legislative Council President Andrew Leung ordered the meeting suspended as security guards forcibly removed Hui. Seconds later, lawmakers complained of a strong odor. One by one, they got up and left, holding their noses and coughing as the putrid smell emanated through the room.

“What’s that smell?” Some remarked loudly on the way out.

A journalist with South China Morning Post who was at the meeting also said he was hit by the smell.

Security guards quickly put on gloves and took a closer look at the bag before covering it with multiple layers of cloth. They also sprayed what appeared to be air freshener to rid the room of the odor. Some of the brown substance had spilled out of the bag and onto the floor.

Security guards cover the bag and spray air freshener. Photo: Apple Daily live feed
Security guards cover the foul-smelling bag and spray air freshener. Photo: Apple Daily live feed

Cleaners then mopped and vacuumed the area before firemen arrived to inspect the scene.

Outside the meeting chamber, Hui told reporters that he had stuffed the bag with “rotten plants” as a “protest prop.”

“I hoped to run in front of [Chairman] Leung and let him feel what rottenness feels like. What’s rotten is our ‘One Country, Two Systems,’ our rule of law, our civility,” he said.

Pro-establishment lawmaker Yan Chan reportedly vomited a few times and felt unwell in the eyes and skin after inhaling the smell. She was taken away in an ambulance.

The meeting was the second day of deliberations reviewing the national anthem law, which states that insulting the song—including altering its lyrics or performing the song in a manner deemed derogatory—could be punishable by up to HK$50,000 (US$6,450) and three years in jail.

Despite the controversy, the law is likely to pass as the pro-establishment camp commands a majority in the legislature.

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