Legco head calls meeting on budget filibustering
Discussion expected to focus on how to cut short pan-democrats' delaying tactics
Colleen Lee, Joshua But and Tony Cheung
Filibustering over the budget bill could soon come to an end after Legislative Council president Jasper Tsang Yok-sing holds a closed-door meeting with lawmakers on Friday.
The discussion on how to handle the remaining amendments is expected to focus on the possibility of halting the debate, some lawmakers said yesterday as the filibuster entered its fourth day with the chief executive's salary under scrutiny.
"I expect [Tsang] to talk about the rules of procedure and say in advance what he might do under certain circumstances," said People Power lawmaker Albert Chan Wai-yip. He had been involved in the filibuster since last Wednesday, along with two fellow members and the League of Social Democrats' "Long Hair" Leung Kwok-hung in their demand for a timetable for a universal retirement scheme.
Labour Party lawmaker Cyd Ho Sau-lan said she believed the discussion would be a "de facto move" to touch on how to cut short the filibuster.
Democratic Party lawmaker Sin Chung-kai said he expected the meeting to discuss arrangements for the budget debate from May 8 onwards. The schedule had so far been set until May 7, but it could drag on because of the filibustering.
Tsang said last week he might merge all remaining debates into one session or impose a limit on the length of each session. He said he would listen to legislators' views before making a decision.
The development came as pan-democratic lawmakers who had previously opted out of the filibuster broke their silence yesterday. But the parties involved - including the Democratic Party, Civic Party, Labour Party and NeoDemocrats lawmaker Gary Fan Kwok-wai - all denied filibustering, saying they simply spoke on the right subjects. The filibustering lawmakers, in the fourth of 148 debates yesterday, delayed the meeting for hours.