Filibuster delays innovation and technology bureau proposal

People Power duo drag out meeting in protest against new-towns plan

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 03 July, 2014, 3:26am
UPDATED : Thursday, 03 July, 2014, 3:26am

The proposal for an innovation and technology bureau is likely to be delayed for at least three more months after two radical lawmakers forced the adjournment of a Legislative Council meeting yesterday.

Filibustering People Power duo Albert Chan Wai-yip and Raymond Chan Chi-chuen dragged out a question-and-answer session from its usual two hours to seven, with 19 time-consuming headcounts of lawmakers.

The session, which started at 11am, finally drew to a close at about 6pm.

Just as the meeting proceeded to scrutinise amendment bills, Albert Chan called for a final quorum.

Only 33 lawmakers, including 25 pro-establishment lawmakers and eight pan-democrats, were in the chamber.

This was two short of the quorum of half the 70 legislators, so the meeting needed to be adjourned until next Wednesday.

Next week's meeting will be the last of the legislative year; bills not tabled for their final reading will have to wait until lawmakers meet in October.

Referring to the remaining items on the agenda, Albert Chan said: "We will allow the supplementary appropriation, electoral legislation and stamp duty amendment bills to go through, because we [mainly] don't want to approve the technology bureau."

After the meeting, Tam Yiu-chung, chairman of the pro-establishment Democratic Alliance for the Betterment and Progress of Hong Kong, criticised the pan-democrats for causing the adjournment.

But Albert Chan remained defiant and vowed to continue the tactics next week.

Chan added that as the final meeting could last until the following Tuesday, they would have to "calculate" the time carefully to make sure that the stamp duty amendment bill went through.

The radicals say their filibuster is a protest against the plans for two new towns in the northeastern New Territories, preliminary funding for which was controversially approved by the Legco Finance Committee last week. Committee chairman Ng Leung-sing was accused of ignoring house rules in permitting the vote on the filibuster-delayed proposal.

Chan said he planned to table three motions before the Finance Committee debate on every funding proposal, including a motion of no confidence in Ng and two adjournment motions.

Last month, Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor - as acting chief executive - warned of a serious backlog in the Finance Committee.

This included policy items costing HK$68.9 billion, including the reconstruction of Queen Mary Hospital and an extra month's payment for 1.1 million social-security recipients, she said.