Wong Yuk-man

Legco head approves budget amendments made in filibustering bid

PUBLISHED : Monday, 22 April, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 11 June, 2015, 3:50pm

Legislative Council president Jasper Tsang Yok-sing has - against government advice - approved more than 700 amendments tabled in the pan-democrats' filibustering bid on the budget bill.

Radical lawmakers - including the League of Social Democrats' "Long Hair" Leung Kwok-hung and People Power's Wong Yuk-man - had filed 751 budget amendments to protest the omission of a universal pension scheme. Tsang said he approved most of them.

"The government advised me not to approve the majority … because the resultant debate would delay the budget bill and hamstring the administration," he said. "But I have no reason to believe that at this point."

Last year, Tsang invoked the Legco rules of procedure's Article 92 - which allowed him to be guided by other legislatures' practices when local rules did not cover an issue at hand - to kill a 33-hour filibuster on a by-election amendment bill

He said he would not rule out doing the same this time as it was the Legco's constitutional responsibility to examine and approve the government's budgets.

"The legislature has to make a decision … instead of delaying endlessly," he said, adding that the amendments could be debated in about 200 sessions.

A HK$75.5 billion interim fund will sustain government spending into May.

Speaking at RTHK's City Forum yesterday, "Long Hair" Leung said the administration could table another interim funding proposal to avoid being hamstrung by the filibuster. But the Democratic Party's Wu Chi-wai disagreed. "A [new] proposal would … take the battle onto a new battleground … A policy debate should not [jeopardise] social welfare," he said.