Hong Kong lawmaker urges united effort to change rules on delaying tactics in legislature, saying public opinion in favour
Junius Ho says pro-establishment camp has a seven-month ‘golden time’ to act before by-elections to replace six opposition pan-democrats
Outspoken Hong Kong lawmaker Junius Ho Kwan-yiu has urged colleagues in the pro-establishment camp to seize their new-found advantage in the legislature to push through changes to meeting rules to beat the pan-democrats’ delaying tactics.
Ho, a member of the Legislative Council committee on rules of procedure, said the coming seven months should be the “golden time” to act, ahead of by-elections to replace six opposition lawmakers who were disqualified for improper oath-taking.
Plans to tackle filibustering on the table after chaos of Hong Kong legislature’s education funding debate
“I hope we, the pro-establishment members, can join forces to come up with something. Otherwise, I think I would do it on my own to propose amending the rules of procedure,” said Ho, referring to media reports that Chan Kin-por, who chairs the Finance Committee, was considering pushing for changes in the meeting rules of the committee to restrict pan-democrats.
Ho said it was the perfect time to act because the pan-democrats had “gone overboard” and the public was becoming more supportive of pro-establishment members.
“The pendulum is starting to swing back in the pro-establishment camp’s favour,” he said.
Pan-democratic legislators dragged out a Finance Committee debate for more than seven hours during a meeting last month to vote on a government request for an extra HK$3.6 billion to spend on education.
The filibustering was in protest against the disqualification of their colleagues over their oath-taking antics, but it seemed to backfire, drawing public criticism.
Common delaying tactics used by the pan-democrats include calling for quorum counts, raising non-binding motions and requesting adjournments.
Changes to the rulebook require majority support in both the geographic and functional constituencies, which are now both dominated by the pro-government camp after the disqualifications of the six – Lau Siu-lai, Nathan Law Kwun-chung, Leung Kwok-hung, Edward Yiu Chung-yim, Sixtus Baggio Leung Chung-hang and Yau Wai-ching – in two court rulings.
Ho said he wanted requests for adjournments of Finance Committee meetings to be limited to one each meeting – there is no cap under present rules – and no more than two quorum calls at one full council meeting.
He said he would seek to fine-tune his ideas with pro-establishment colleagues from the legal sector – such as Priscilla Leung Mei-fun of the Business and Professionals Alliance of Hong Kong and Horace Cheung Kwok-kwan and Holden Chow Ho-ding of the Democratic Alliance for the Betterment and Progress of Hong Kong – before lobbying others for support.
He was optimistic that some moderate pan-democrats might also support getting rid of filibustering.
“Some of them may also hate filibustering but are forced to follow opposition camp people to do it in the hope of staying relevant in the camp,” Ho said.