Chief secretary vows no retreat on by-election bill

PUBLISHED : Monday, 14 May, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 14 May, 2012, 12:00am


The government will not back down on a bill to scrap Legislative Council by-elections, the chief secretary said, yesterday, as another pan-democrat vowed to back a filibuster to stall the legislation.

Stephen Lam Sui-lung, whose term as chief secretary ends on June 30, said society 'has reached a consensus in support of the proposal'.

'Hong Kong society in general supports the idea that resigned lawmakers should not contest by-elections,' Lam said.

'This is a consensus both inside and outside Legco.'

Two People Power lawmakers and one from the League of Social Democrats are pursuing a filibuster of the bill, which would ban legislators who resign from contesting any by-election for six months. On Friday, they succeeded for a second week running to force an adjournment of Legco debate on the issue.

Independent pan-democrat Andrew Cheng Kar-foo said yesterday that he would join the filibuster.

Lawmakers have until July 18 to pass the bill before it lapses. To move the process along, pro-government lawmakers are pushing for all-night debates when Legco resumes on Wednesday. But the camp is split on plans for marathon meetings.

Ip Kwok-him, the lawmaker responsible for co-ordinating support for the bill, said a round-the-clock meeting was a better way to ensure a quorum in the chamber.

'Lawmakers are less occupied at night time than on the weekend,' the Democratic Alliance for the Betterment and Progress of Hong Kong lawmaker said.

According to Legco rules, the council's president has the power to change the day or hour of a meeting. Ip wants a majority of the council's 60 members to back his all-night meeting idea as it would put pressure on the president to make the change.

About 20 lawmakers from the DAB, the Federation of Trade Unions, and Economic Synergy support the plan. But some pro-government lawmakers are against it.

Information technology lawmaker Samson Tam Wai-ho called it 'unsustainable'.

'It is unlikely lawmakers can have non-stop meeting for 48 or 72 hours ... the meeting will eventually be forced to adjourn again,' Tam said.

Medical lawmaker Dr Leung Ka-lau said the proposal 'overestimated the ability of lawmakers to refrain from sleeping'.