Raymond Wong Yuk Man

Tsang comes under fire from all sides

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 22 May, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 22 May, 2012, 12:00am


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Long respected by lawmakers across the political spectrum, Tsang Yok-sing finds himself in an unlikely position - attacked by friend and foe alike for his handling of last week's legislative filibuster.

Pan-democrats moved a vote of confidence against Tsang, president of the Legislative Council, saying he failed to maintain political neutrality by axing the debate. Tsang put the brakes on the filibuster of a contentious by-election bill on Thursday, after 33 hours.

Meanwhile, Tsang's political allies criticise him for accepting People Power's 1,306 amendments, then tolerating lawmakers' repeated and irrelevant speeches.

Tsang set a 'bad precedent' by approving the meaningless amendments tabled by the two People Power lawmakers, said Federation of Trade Unions lawmaker Wong Kwok-hing - referring to Albert Chan Wai-yip and Wong Yuk-man.

'Tsang should not have approved all the amendments, or he could have reduced them into a few groupings ... He used to be cautious about approving lawmakers' motions and amendments,' said Wong Kwok-hing. 'His standard in upholding the rules of procedure also changed from time to time.'

During the debate, Tsang issued more than 70 warnings to the radicals and frequently argued with them about their repeated and irrelevant speeches. He in turn was challenged by frustrated pro-government lawmakers who were forced to stay in the chamber to meet the quorum.

At one point, Chim Pui-chung, lawmaker for finance services, called on Tsang to resign.

Fred Li Wah-ming, the Democratic Party's caucus convenor, said: 'I believe Tsang will face frequent challenges over his decisions in future. This has damaged mutual trust [in the legislature].'

Tsang defended his actions as an attempt to balance Legco's effective operation with the rights of a political minority to free expression.