Legco chief hails 'professionalism' of filibustering lawmakers

Legco chief Jasper Tsang says filibustering lawmakers made a good effort to do their jobs

PUBLISHED : Monday, 02 June, 2014, 5:20am
UPDATED : Monday, 02 June, 2014, 8:28am

Legislative Council president Jasper Tsang Yok-sing has hailed the "professionalism" three radical pan-democrats showed in their filibuster of the government's budget bill.

Tsang praised the lawmakers for their continued attempts to delay the voting - even though they knew full well that "politically and realistically", they would not achieve anything.

Yesterday's unusual display of empathy came as Tsang joked that he might have developed "Stockholm syndrome" after listening to the marathon debate for so long.

League of Social Democrats' "Long Hair" Leung Kwok-hung and People Power's Raymond Chan Chi-chuen and Albert Chan Wai-yip are trying to delay the passage of the budget bill in an effort to force the government to accept their demands for a universal pension scheme and cash handouts for Hongkongers.

Naming Leung and Raymond Chan, Tsang said in an interview with Commercial Radio yesterday: "I think they are rather professional. They still insist on filibustering and they still look enthusiastic.

"I can see that they are well prepared. They have done the research and are not just talking through their hats. [Their arguments] are not altogether pointless. To be fair, I have to say they have made a good effort [to do their job]."

But the Legco chief was quick to add that while he hailed the lawmakers' professionalism, he did not agree with their tactic of filibustering to disrupt Legco's affairs.

At the end of last Friday's meeting, Tsang quipped that councillors had become like hostages who felt for their captors.

"Have we all got Stockholm syndrome? Are we starting to fall in love with the filibustering lawmakers?" he jokingly asked those in the chamber.

Stockholm syndrome refers to a psychological condition in which hostages express empathy for, and develop positive feelings towards, their captors after being kept with them for a prolonged period of time.

By last Friday, almost all of the 1,192 amendments filed by the pan-democrats had been voted down. There are still 56 amendments left to vote on.

Tsang had earlier anticipated that the budget bill could be passed at this Wednesday's meeting.

Meanwhile, in an article posted on his official blog yesterday, Financial Secretary John Tsang Chun-wah urged lawmakers to pass the government budget bill as soon as possible.

Delaying it any further would affect public services, he said.

"Further delaying its passage would unavoidably cause adverse impacts on society," John Tsang wrote on his blog.

"I sincerely urge [the city's lawmakers] to try their best to finish the [voting] on the [budget] bill as soon as possible so as to allow Legco and the government to resume normal business and deal with other important proceedings."

He said the Financial Services and the Treasury Bureau would in the meantime start running contingency plans to ensure various departments get necessary funding in the so as to minimise impact on the provision of public services.