The pan-democratic camp's fight to retain the right to filibuster in the legislature suffered a setback yesterday, when the Finance Committee cut off a debate - itself facing a filibuster - on how to amend its own rules.
When the meeting began, the committee was due to discuss a proposal from its chairman Tommy Cheung Yu-yan on amending its rules of procedure. It called for a member to give the committee five days' notice before moving a motion to change the rules. Two more days' notice was needed for amendments to that motion.
Pan-democrats made their objections clear when the proposal was first debated in November, filing 1,244 amendments to hinder its passage. As yesterday's meeting began, pro-government lawmaker Ip Kwok-him raised eyebrows by moving that the discussion be adjourned.
"We should discuss [how to amend rules] when we have more time and consensus to do so, [instead of] wasting the legislature's time," Ip said, referring to the mass of amendments.
Pan-democrats opposed him with 20 votes, but the motion carried with 32 votes. Committee vice-chairwoman Emily Lau Wai-hing of the Democratic Party said: "How can you do this when we agreed to discuss [this] and then raised amendments? And suddenly you say 'Oh, I don't like it, let's take the item away'. "[You are behaving] like a child."
An anti-filibuster plan from Ip will be debated on January 25 that would stop lawmakers tabling more than one motion on a funding bid without prior notice.