Lam 'fears effect of pension surrender'
Backing down on the Old Age Living Allowance proposal would hamstring the administration's ability to govern, Chief Secretary Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor fears, according to the radical pan-democratic lawmaker Leung Kwok-hung.
Leung, the League of Social Democrats' chairman, better known as "Long Hair", said Lam phoned him on Tuesday, asking him to be "magnanimous" when the finance committee cane to scrutinise the government's proposal again tomorrow.
Last Friday, the government's application for HK$3.1 billion in funding for the HK$2,200-a-month allowance was discussed by the committee for the fourth time since the end of last month.
However, Leung and the Labour Party's Dr Fernando Cheung Chiu-hung launched a filibuster at the Legco's Finance Committee meeting while protesters demonstrated outside. They moved 110 motions for amendments, a tactic designed to push the government to drop the means test attached to the subsidy plan. All 110 were vetoed.
Leung told the press yesterday that during Tuesday's phone conversation, he urged Lam to waive the means test for those aged over 70, "but she said if the administration gives in, it cannot govern anymore".
It is believed that there are still at least 130 motions for amendments to be dealt with tomorrow, while Leung refused to disclose how many more motions he planned to move.
"I have heard many old people telling me not to filibuster anymore," Leung said. "But it's not about stopping the elderly from getting the allowance, only trying to help all the elderly to get it, without a means test."
Leung also suggested that Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying should give out an extra allowance for the poor elderly in his policy address in January.
Lawmaker Tam Yiu-chung, chairman of the Beijing-loyalist Democratic Alliance for the Betterment and Progress of Hong Kong, said she also believed that the pan-democrats should stop filibustering.