Hong Kong’s Legco president rejects vast majority of pan-democrats’ budget amendments
Radical legislator Leung Kwok-hung, who proposed 522 amendments alone, accuses Andrew Leung of trying to curb legislature’s power of scrutiny
The president of Hong Kong’s Legislative Council on Monday dismissed three-quarters of amendments to the government budget, in an apparent bid to cut short the pan-democrats’ planned filibuster.
Of 742 tabled amendments, Andrew Leung Kwan-yuen admitted just 185. He said the rest were “unintelligible, inaccurate, frivolous or meaningless”.
Leung said legislator “Long Hair” Leung Kwok-hung, who hoped to fight for a universal pension scheme by dragging out the debate, had proposed 522 amendments alone. The League of Social Democrats legislator only had 28 amendments approved.
Andrew Leung said: “I have duly considered factors such as the power and function of Legco to examine and approve budgets, the right of members to participate in the legislative process and the council’s past experience.
“Based on the council’s past experience, there was little exchange of views among members during the debates on such [committee-stage amendments]. Considerable time was also spent on quorum calls.”
Leung Kwok-hung slammed the president’s ruling. He accused him of seeing the legislature as a body that green-lights whatever bills and motions the administration submits.
“Andrew Leung should be the chief secretary of [chief executive-elect] Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor,” Leung Kwok-hung said.
The radical pan-democrat also vowed to consider launching a judicial review against the president’s ruling, as he urged his allies in the legislature to force the issue.
“No one would want to see the Legco become just a rubber stamp,” he said.
The legislature will start scrutinising the annual appropriation bill on Wednesday, the first such bill drafted by Paul Chan Mo-po. Chan became financial secretary after his predecessor John Tsang Chun-wah quit to run in the chief executive race, losing to Lam.
Pan-democrats were planning the shortest filibuster on the budget for five years by filing only 742 amendments this year, against the 2,158 amendments they tabled last year.
The Financial Services and Treasury Bureau earlier wrote to Kenneth Chen Wei-on, the secretary general of the Legco secretariat, warning that the bill was time-critical and should be passed by the middle of May or else public services would be disrupted.
The bureau lamented that 38 hours had been “frivolled away” last year because of the filibustering, including 18 hours spent on handling 79 quorum calls.
Last year then Legco president Jasper Tsang Yok-sing slashed more than 80 per cent of 2,168 amendments tabled by lawmakers, admitting only 407.