POLITICS

John Tsang tells filibuster lawmakers to end 'farce'

Finance chief's blog says public is annoyed at tactic to hold up approval of budget

PUBLISHED : Monday, 19 May, 2014, 5:07am
UPDATED : Monday, 19 May, 2014, 6:36pm

Financial Secretary John Tsang Chun-wah has an angry message for the lawmakers whose filibuster is holding up the budget bill: "go away" and stop the "farce".

In a posting on his blog yesterday, titled "Go away!", the finance chief pointed the finger at those who initiated the filibuster.

"Allow me to tell them this again: the public has been very annoyed by this repeated farce, and they hope the lawmakers who started the filibuster will end this as soon as possible," he wrote. "If they continue to be impervious, and the audience gets annoyed, someone will have to tell them to just go away."

Lawmakers have spent 82 hours, according to Tsang, discussing the 1,192 amendments to the budget bill since April 30. People Power lawmakers Albert Chan Wai-yip and Raymond Chan Chi-chuen, together with League of Social Democrats lawmaker "Long Hair" Leung Kwok-hung, are the key figures behind the filibuster.

They are demanding cash handouts for all Hongkongers and a universal pension scheme.

The finance chief wrote on his blog that there was not enough time for the budget to be passed within the deadline of this month.

"If it drags on, the government will unavoidably face a financial crisis - that it cannot maintain public services," he wrote.

The salaries of government employees and staff of subsidised organisations will be affected next month. And according to Tsang, the government may not be able to make social security payments in July.

In response, Chan, of People Power, challenged Tsang to a public debate and said he would immediately "go away" if he lost.

He criticised Tsang for hiding behind his computer and making the comments on his blog, rather than directly confronting the lawmakers.

Chan said that Tsang could apply for a provisional fund to keep the government bodies running, but that "irresponsible" Tsang had not done so.