Radicals' grounds not reason enough to hold up Legco, poll finds

Radical lawmakers' grounds not reason enough to hold up Legco proceedings using filibusters, two-thirds of people in CUHK survey say

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 29 May, 2014, 4:16am
UPDATED : Thursday, 29 May, 2014, 4:38pm

Two-thirds of residents disagree with the grounds radical pan-democratic lawmakers have cited in launching filibusters in the legislature, a Chinese University poll shows.

The delaying tactic has been employed in recent weeks to press the government on issues as wide-ranging as universal pensions, cash handouts and democracy, while trying to foil its efforts in landfill expansion and the formation of a new bureau.

Despite the findings, League of Social Democrats lawmaker "Long Hair" Leung Kwok-hung vowed to continue his filibustering - the latest being a challenge against the proposed innovation and technology bureau.

"If the chief executive does not explain his decision to deny Hong Kong Television Network a [free-television] licence, I will continue to drag out [Legislative Council proceedings] to push for more answers," Leung said.

The public's disapproval of filibustering was unveiled after a debate on the government's budget bill lasted more than three weeks, slowed by 1,192 amendments. Legco began voting on Friday and, by late last night, had voted down more than 300 amendments.

Of the 753 poll respondents, 63.7 per cent disagreed with Leung's budget filibuster to strive for a universal pension scheme, compared with 13.5 per cent who approved of his action, the university found.

Another 68.5 per cent did not support the use of the tactic by People Power lawmakers Albert Chan Wai-yip and Raymond Chan Chi-chuen to demand universal handouts of HK$10,000, while 8.8 per cent endorsed it.

The survey has a sampling error of plus or minus 3.57 per cent.

Meanwhile, the battlefield for filibustering has extended to Legco panels and subcommittees.

Gary Fan Kwok-wai of the NeoDemocrats is trying to block funding on the environmental panel for a landfill expansion plan, while Leung is targeting the government's request to set up seven new posts - three political appointees and four civil servants - for the proposed bureau.

Leung filed an adjournment motion and more than 70 amendments on the establishment subcommittee.

His motion was vetoed 2-11 yesterday, with one abstention, while none of his amendments were vetted as time ran out and chairwoman Regina Ip Lau Suk-yee ended the two-hour meeting. He warned of many more amendments to come to stall the application for the bureau.

Charles Mok of the information technology sector, who has been lobbying for the bureau, foresees more delays when the government seeks funding at the Finance Committee.

The pan-democrat said he would continue to try to persuade Leung, Albert Chan and Raymond Chan to stop their filibustering.