Filibustering rhetoric stepped up
Colleen Lee and Tony Cheung
With the filibuster in the legislature due to resume tomorrow, its supporters and critics - including the chief executive-elect - stepped up their rhetoric yesterday.
Leung Chun-ying renewed his criticism of the filibuster, calling on Hongkongers to condemn it and to consider punishing their representatives at the ballot box.
It was the fourth straight day the chief executive-elect had criticised radical pan-democrats' delaying tactics in the Legislative Council's scrutiny of a bill on by-elections.
Leung said on Commercial Radio: 'Hongkongers are not onlookers but the masters of Hong Kong. Whether or not they support or disagree with the recent filibustering, they should air their views.
'The residents I have reached out to in the past two weeks all believe that the Legislative Council should put priority on what people urgently want and work for the people, not play politics.' Voters should consider whether to re-elect their lawmakers in September's election, he said.
A key driver behind the filibuster, lawmaker Wong Yuk-man of People Power, said: 'Leung only won 689 votes [in the chief executive election], what popular mandate does he have? ... He is just trying to provoke pro-government citizens to 'besiege' us [with demands to stop the filibuster].' Wong is recovering from eye surgery, and may have to leave tomorrow's filibuster early to rest. But colleague Albert Chan Wai-yip will continue the tactic with lawmakers 'Long Hair' Leung Kwok-hung and Andrew Cheng Kar-foo.
Social activists who support the filibuster called on the public to make themselves heard in a rally tomorrow in front of Legco. The organisers include the Civil Human Rights Front, Federation of Students and Neo Democrats.
Eric Lai Yan-ho, convenor of the rights front, said they would send this message to Leung: 'Because the incumbent head of the government refuses to withdraw the bill, it is Chief Executive Donald Tsang Yam-kuen who is battling against you, not the [filibustering lawmakers].'
Civic Party leader Alan Leong Kah-kit plans to table a motion to suspend the debate on the by-election bill, despite last week's defeat of a similar motion tabled by his colleague Audrey Eu Yuet-mee.
The Democratic Party and Labour Party plan to support the motion.
Lawmakers have until July 18 to pass the bill before it dies. To move the process along, pro-government lawmakers are pushing for round-the-clock debates but have yet to gather enough support.
Leung also said people were worried that a handful of lawmakers could also stall other matters in Legco, possibly paralysing the city. But he did not say if the government should withdraw the by-election legislation, which would force lawmakers who resign their seats to wait six months before running for re-election.