• Thu
  • Dec 25, 2014
  • Updated: 5:47pm
NewsHong Kong
BUDGET

Jasper Tsang moves to end budget filibuster saga on Friday night

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 21 May, 2014, 2:45pm
UPDATED : Thursday, 22 May, 2014, 3:30am
 

A marathon debate among lawmakers on the budget will be wrapped up tomorrow night, after the Legislative Council president yesterday imposed a time cap to end the filibustering.

Jasper Tsang Yok-sing also set a June 4 target for Legco to finish examining the budget bill so that the wheels of government could continue to be oiled by a steady cash flow.

Exercising his powers under the Basic Law, Tsang argued the delays foisted on the legislature by pan-democrats had deprived lawmakers of their right to scrutinise the administration in other areas, such as policy issues.

He dismissed criticism that his purpose was to do the government's bidding, saying he was concerned only about how the 1,192 amendments to the bill were "seriously obstructing" other legislative business.

"As long as the procedures on the bill do not end, lawmakers cannot raise questions to officials at council meetings," he said. "[The filibuster has also prevented Legco] from dealing with several items of legislation popular with lawmakers and the society."

One of the issues up for discussion is a proposal to form an innovation and technology bureau that will cost about HK$1.1 million to set up and up to HK$37 million a year to run. The government will table a resolution to Legco on June 18.

Most of the budget amendments are sponsored by three radicals - People Power's Albert Chan Wai-yip and Raymond Chan Chi-chuen, and the League of Social Democrats' "Long Hair" Leung Kwok-hung. The trio want the government to introduce universal pensions or give all residents a direct cash handout.

Legco began its debate on April 30, and by yesterday morning, the three had spoken 161 times on the budget, Tsang noted. He had also warned them 47 times for giving repetitive or irrelevant speeches. Tsang had divided the debate into six sessions, with the first focused on items not targeted by the amendments.

But by the end of last Friday - after over 63 hours of debate - lawmakers were only at the third session. Tsang's decision yesterday sped up the procedures, with the fourth session expected to close today. He also slapped an eight-hour limit on each of the last three sessions, meaning the marathon debate will end tomorrow night and voting on the amendments will begin.

The arrangement drew questions from 11 pan-democrats - triggering another hour of arguments. Albert Chan asked if Tsang was responding to officials' warning about a "fiscal cliff" - referring to Financial Secretary John Tsang Chun-wah's comment last week that the government would stop funding Legco, hospitals and universities next month to "pull together" HK$5.1 billion for other work.

Tsang reiterated that his decision was grounded in Article 72 of the Basic Law, which empowered him to "preside over meetings", as well as Article 92 of Legco's rules of procedure, authorising him to decide on matters not provided for in the house rules.

He said lawmakers had the right to seek a judicial review in court, after Leung warned of a legal challenge. A similar challenge failed after Tsang ended last year's budget debate.

Civic Party leader Alan Leong Kah-kit said he would continue lobbying for support to change Legco rules, so lawmakers, rather than the president, would have the power to end filibusters.

 

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6

This article is now closed to comments

pjp
I almost cried when I heard these clowns on the Radio last night talking about standing up for the people and what is noble and right. They represent all that is wrong with this city these days.
johnwe
Bravo ! I salute you Tsang Yoksing.
The cretins don't qualify for such gentle nouns as clowns. They are the pits - bloodsuckng hundreds of thousands monthly of our money to obstruct instead of help govern the territory.The smug mug of the long haired chap makes me vomit; the baldie reminds me of my pork vendor; the other one is a lightweight totally out of his league.And they have the audacity to challenge the MTR for delays and ask Cheung Bing Lung to resign. They should resign for their disgusting annual obfuscation leading to loss of billions. They talk of looking after the public interest. Have they no shame no eyes, no ears to realize the public annoyance and disgust with their behaviour? Disgusting and abominable.
I blame those who keep returning them to office. Please make sure they are not returned at the next election. Short of saying something on more drastic, I hope the floor opens and swallows those 3 lowest of the low idiots.
As for Leong Ka Kit saying he wants the members to decide on the guillotine, and not the chairman, it ill becomes a Gold Medalist in law exams at MU.
constantine
those three pan-Democrats are counter productive and seems their purpose is just to obstructing the normal flow of the Lecgo procedure and slowing the government's pace by endless meaningless speechess as much as they can ...sick of their attitude ..rude and stupid....their presence turn the whole Lecgo meetings isto a drama... this is not politics ... just bring them down... they have done too much damage to hong kong ....
onedistrict
Hong Kong WAS known for its efficiency in every way.
These acts of filibuster at the highest level of governance are absolutely unthinkable.
Yet the citizens have no choice but to pay for the individuals who deliberately force-feed inefficiency into the city. Something is gravely wrong !!
tvleet
TEST
cfj
Several decades ago, that was his English name but I doubt he used it after leaving school.

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