The legislature approved a controversial HK$100 million government donation to official Sichuan earthquake relief efforts yesterday, despite earlier worries over a possible filibuster.
In a 37-23 vote, with pan-democrat Dr Joseph Lee Kok-long abstaining and with the support of pro-establishment lawmakers, the proposal was approved by the Legislative Council Finance Committee after an almost two-hour debate.
The debate resumed yesterday after discussions last week failed to reach a vote.
All 14 motions put forward by the pan-democratic camp, including some asking the government to donate the money to Hong Kong-registered non-government agencies and to report back to the committee on how the donation had been used, were voted down.
Some pan-democrats had wanted to block the donation, which is to be made directly to the Sichuan government, for fear the money would end up in the pockets of corrupt mainland officials. They urged that funding be directed to relief groups or victims.
People Power lawmaker Albert Chan Wai-yip had earlier warned that his party might put forth dozens more motions to delay the voting, but it dropped the plan yesterday.
Fellow legislator Wong Yuk-man said he "could have proposed 150 motions to delay the vote" but did not because he wanted to save his efforts for the budget debate. Wong is one of four legislators who have filibustered to delay passage of the government's budget.
Chief Secretary Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor had urged legislators not to delay the vote on relief, stressing the urgency of providing the aid to the victims of the earthquake in Yaan, which killed almost 200 people and injured thousands.
Pro-government legislator Priscilla Leung Mei-fun accused opposition legislators of politicising the donation issue.
"We only leave the victims to suffer if we do not donate the money," she said.