'No collusion' over debate, Legco president insists

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 19 May, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 19 May, 2012, 12:00am

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Legislative Council president Tsang Yok-sing knew in advance that pro-government lawmaker Philip Wong Yu-hong was going to propose killing the filibuster on Thursday.

Legco secretary-general Pauline Ng Man-wah said last night she had informed Tsang on Wednesday that Wong was planning to propose terminating the debate after Wong had made inquiries about the rules of procedure.

Ng's comments supported denials from Wong and Tsang earlier in the day that they had colluded to invoke a never-before-used power to bring the chamber's scrutiny of the 1,300 amendments on the controversial by-election bill to an end.

Video footage of the meeting shows Wong - who did not speak during the 33-hour debate - received two memos minutes before making the surprising request at 4.30am. One memo concerning the length of the meeting was from Ng and another from an unidentified person. Wong later said he had forgotten the contents of the second memo but that it was entirely his idea to call for an end to the debate. Shortly before Wong received the memos, Tsang was recorded as saying, 'Pauline, will soon take action after [lawmakers] come back [from the break].' But Tsang did not specify who would take action in the footage and he later said he could not remember the context of making the remark.

All this raised speculation that Wong and Tsang were in collusion. Tsang denied communicating with Wong, or any other lawmaker, before making his controversial decision. '[There was] no conspiracy. I never discussed what I should do with any members,' he said.

However, Tsang failed to explain his 'take action' comment. 'I can't remember the context of making that remark,' he said. 'I had many communications with the secretary general throughout.'

Meanwhile, Tam Yiu-chung, chairman of the Democratic Alliance for the Betterment and Progress of Hong Kong (DAB), denied accusations that the party had paid anti-filibuster protesters to rally outside the Legco building.