Lawmakers agree to speed up filibuster campaign
Four radical lawmakers met with Legislative Council president Jasper Tsang Yok-sing on Friday and agreed to shorten their filibuster campaign on the budget bill by making fewer speeches and quorum calls.
The four People Power and League of Social Democrats lawmakers denied backing down from the campaign, saying the move was in response to other lawmakers’ complaints that their delaying tactics had become “exhausting”.
The lawmakers, whose on-going filibuster campaign will start-up again on Wednesday when Legco meets, have filed more than 700 amendments to the budget bill to protest its omission of a universal pension scheme.
The radicals also said the sped-up process would allow the public to listen to debates about other government departments’ budgets.
The government warned on Thursday that failure to pass the budget bill by May 15 could hamstring the administration and delay one-off poverty relief measures proposed in the budget.
The four radical lawmakers on Friday also sent a letter to Financial Secretary John Tsang Chun-wah calling for negotiations with the government on the inclusion of a universal pension scheme in the budget bill.
People Power Albert Chan Wai-yip said that even with the sped-up process the debate could last another 50 days.
Legco president Jasper Tsang Yok-sing has hinted that he would halt the filibuster later this month.
Civic Party leader and lawmaker Alan Leong Kah-kit said that while they did not support filibustering, it was Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying’s job to resolve his government’s crisis.
“If there’s one person who ought to be anxious now, it’s the chief executive,” Leong stressed. “It is not the duty of Legco to co-operate with the executive [branch of government] who doesn’t see fit to respect the legislature.”
He slammed the government for “dwarfing” the Legislative Council in recent years.
Lawmaker Tam Yiu-chung, chairman of the Beijing-loyalist Democratic Alliance for the Betterment and Progress of Hong Kong, disagreed.
“The Legco president, lawmakers, and the officials share the responsibility in making sure that ... a ‘fiscal cliff’ doesn’t emerge in Hong Kong,” Tam emphasised. “The people don’t wish to see this.”