Lawmakers plan court action if Jasper Tsang cuts short budget filibuster

PUBLISHED : Monday, 14 April, 2014, 5:45pm
UPDATED : Tuesday, 15 April, 2014, 3:48am

Pan-democrats who raised 1,917 amendments to the budget bill say their filibuster will last longer than last year's marathon, and warned that they will launch a judicial review if the debate is "unreasonably cut short" by Legislative Council president Jasper Tsang Yok-sing.

They called on fellow pan-democrats to use the filibuster as a chance to debate important issues.

"If the budget debate is unreasonably cut short again, we will file a … judicial review against Tsang's decision," said Albert Chan Wai-yip, who with fellow People Power member Ray Chan Chi-chuen has tabled 261 changes to Financial Secretary John Tsang Chun-wah's budget.

It took 120 hours across 13 days to finish the second and third readings of last year's budget bill after a filibuster by radical pan-democrats. It was passed after Tsang invoked a Legco rule empowering him to act in a situation not covered by existing rules.

Tsang used the same grounds to cut short a 33-hour filibuster in May 2012, on a bill to prevent lawmakers who resigned midterm from standing in a by-election within six months. A judicial review of that decision filed by "Long Hair" Leung Kwok-hung awaits hearing in the Court of Final Appeal.

Leung, of the League of Social Democrats, has proposed 1,503 amendments to this year's bill.

Speaking after meeting the Legco president yesterday, Albert Chan quoted Tsang as saying the debate starting tomorrow would be divided into five sessions.

"If he puts a deadline on the filibuster, the remaining time will be divided between the number of unfinished debate sessions," said Chan, adding that this approach would impinge on lawmakers' "freedom of speech".