Filibuster and protests bring lawmakers' meeting to a standstill

Public works subcommittee left unable to vote on plans to extend landfill and build incinerator

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 13 May, 2014, 3:54pm
UPDATED : Wednesday, 14 May, 2014, 11:56am

A meeting for lawmakers to scrutinise a landfill extension and incinerator project descended into chaos again on Tuesday amid rowdy protests and a filibuster.

For the third time in less than a month, the Legislative Council's public works subcommittee was unable to vote on the plans.

Subcommittee chairman Lo Wai-kwok said on Wednesday that he will consider ending the filibuster if he finds the meeting can longer function effectively.

But Lo went on to say that he had no power to stop committee members from tabling motions to add conditions to the government’s plans.

Officials say the projects, a waste incinerator off Shek Kwu Chau and an extension to the Tseung Kwan O tip, costing a combined HK$20 billion, are crucial as the city's three landfills will be full by 2020. As the meeting opened at 9am, Environment Secretary Wong Kam-sing rejected NeoDemocrat lawmaker Gary Fan Kwok-wai's request to withdraw the landfill from discussion.

Fan then tabled dozens of motions to be attached to the item under consideration. They included asking the Justice Department to adopt double-sided photocopying.

Shortly after the meeting began, it was disrupted by protesters, most claiming to be Tseung Kwan O residents, shouting from the public gallery. "Wong Kam-sing, have you ever come to visit Tseung Kwan O?" yelled one protester. "[Environment Undersecretary Christine] Loh Kung-wai, you've changed."

Lo suspended the meeting after the protesters ignored warnings to be quiet. He then decided to change the venue. When the meeting resumed in another room, the Legco Secretariat wanted to close it to the public and media, but the idea was dismissed.

Outside the room, a dozen protesters, led by Sai Kung district councillor Christine Fong Kwok-shan, knelt to express their frustration.

By the time the media and some audience members returned to the room, the votes on Fan's motions were slowly progressing.

A total of 78 out of 104 motions tabled by Fan and seconded by People Power's Albert Chan Wai-yip had been voted down by the time the meeting ended at 1pm.

The items will be discussed again at another meeting on May 21. Until they are approved, funding requests for the work cannot be sent to the Finance Committee for final endorsement.

A Legco Secretariat spokesman said anyone removed from a meeting for causing disruption could be refused re-entry. "The secretariat reported the incident to the police," he added.