Don't delay key laws, Tsang warns

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 09 May, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 09 May, 2012, 12:00am


Chief Executive Donald Tsang Yam-kuen yesterday stepped up pressure on radical lawmakers to stop their filibuster of a controversial electoral bill, saying it would hold up other important measures and could cost them public support.

'If the progress of the agenda is obstructed, and the lawmaking process has to be stopped [it will affect] many important issues of public concern, such as regulations on property sales, the competition bill, and the shake-up in the way the government works,' Tsang said. 'These are very important and urgent matters, and must be decided within these final few weeks.'

He said the public would not support delays to the work of the Legislative Council.

Tsang was speaking a day before the legislature was to resume debate on the Legislative Council (Amendment) Bill 2012, which would stop lawmakers who resign midterm from standing in a by-election for six months. The measure follows the resignation last year of five pan-democrats to trigger by-elections they hoped they would be a 'de facto referendum' on democratisation.

People Power legislators Albert Chan Wai-yip and Wong Yuk-man have filed more than 1,300 amendments to the bill.

Legco agreed to a government bid to first look at two low-profile bills, so the meeting today will focus on a fisheries protection bill first, then debate miscellaneous changes to election laws, before turning attention to the hotly debated amendment bill.

Council president Tsang Yok-sing denied that by agreeing to reprioritise the bills, he was helping the administration deal with the filibuster. 'The government's priority decides how the agenda is arranged,' he said. 'The administration has the right to ask us to deal with more urgent items first.'

A Legco committee met behind closed doors yesterday to discuss whether to amend rules to prevent filibusters. Committee chairman Tam Yiu-chung said they had not reached a consensus.

Cheung Chau resident Cheng Cheuk-kin applied for judicial review of the by-election amendments, which he said went against the Basic Law.

But a spokeswoman for the constitutional and mainland affairs bureau reiterated that the bureau had sought legal advice on the proposal from the Department of Justice and noted Queen's Counsel David Pannick, who had confirmed that the proposal was constitutional.

Legco yesterday finished the committee-stage vetting process of the competition bill, which is now scheduled for full counting voting on May 30.