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Thursday, December 07, 2017, 00:44
Axing filibusters in LegCo becomes 'vital'
By Carrie Qiu and Luis Liu
Thursday, December 07, 2017, 00:44 By Carrie Qiu and Luis Liu

HONG KONG - Hong Kong’s political experts say they believe it is vital to fix the legislature’s rule book now because filibustering has escalated in recent years.

Lifting the president’s control of the meetings will be effective to curb needless motions and amendments

Lau Siu-kai, Sociologist and Vice-President, Chinese Association of Hong Kong and Macao Studies

They made these remarks on Wednesday as a scheduled debate on amending the Legislative Council’s Rules of Procedure was put off by yet another round of filibustering tactics. 

During the meeting which preceded the scheduled Rules of Procedure debate, opposition legislators tried to halt proceedings by constantly calling for quorum counts and making lengthy speeches on a subsidiary piece of legislation on the Trainee Solicitors’ Amendment Rules. 

Members of the opposition camp earlier said they would come up with “imaginative tactics” to block the debate.

Lau Siu-kai, a sociologist and vice-president of the nation’s top Hong Kong affairs think tank – Chinese Association of Hong Kong and Macao Studies – said LegCo rules had been “abused by ‘pan-democratic’ lawmakers” to disrupt the legislature’s operations and also Hong Kong’s governance.

Lau said that in recent years, filibustering had become a tool used by the “pan-democrats” to vent their dissatisfaction. He believed some amendments proposed by pro-establishment legislators, including lowering quorum requirements and increasing the LegCo president’s power, would help to curb some filibustering.

“Lowering the quorum requirements targets the opposition lawmakers’ tactic of repeatedly calling for quorum counts. Lifting the president’s control of the meetings will be effective to curb needless motions and amendments,” said Lau.

Barrister and former lawmaker Ronny Tong Ka-wah said the current Rules of Procedure failed to ensure smooth operation of LegCo; they therefore needed to be reviewed. Tong, who is an Executive Council member, said lawmakers should not obstruct LegCo’s debates or legislation when expressing opinions.

Veteran political analyst Song Sio-chong said he agreed with the idea of revising LegCo rules. However, he thought that instead of lowering quorum requirements, the government should propose amending the Legislative Council Ordinance to make their job as lawmakers a full-time one. He said elected lawmakers had an obligation to stay focused on the job and believed this would lower the chance of meetings being adjourned.

Meanwhile, he urged the “pan-democrats” to show agreater sense of responsibility, adding that they needed to stop filibustering and return to doing real work.

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