Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying yesterday dismissed the filibustering efforts of pan-democrats and snubbed their call for negotiations over the budget.
Four People Power and League of Social Democrats lawmakers decided to cut short their delaying tactics on the budget bill by making fewer speeches and quorum calls. They called for a meeting with the financial secretary to discuss the budget bill and a universal pension scheme.
Legislative Council president Jasper Tsang Yok-sing also suggested the administration could learn from foreign governments that bargained with filibustering legislators.
But in a media gathering at Government House later, Leung appeared unconvinced.
"How genuine is this argument?" he asked. "It isn't the first time they have filibustered."
He said it had to be determined whether the radicals were really fighting for something dear to their hearts, or filibustering for the sake of it.
"A universal pension scheme cannot be achieved with a few days of discussions," he said, adding that an advisory body was studying the whole retirement protection issue.
Earlier, Tsang had urged the government to consider ways to resolve the conflict, saying it was common in other legislatures, when minority lawmakers were filibustering, for the administration to sit down with them.
Leung's stance dealt a blow to the pan-democrats who were among 30 lawmakers who met the Legco president to discuss how to deal with the filibuster when the lawmakers meet again on Wednesday.
People Power legislator Albert Chan Wai-yip denied the radicals had backed down. He said they decided to break off their filibusters for the good of lawmakers who complained that the delaying tactics were "exhausting".
The debate could still last another 50 days.
Civic Party leader and lawmaker Alan Leong Kah-kit said while the party did not support filibustering, it was the chief executive's job to resolve the crisis.
"If there's one person who ought to be anxious now, this person must be the chief executive," Leong said. "It is not the duty of Legco to co-operate with the chief executive who doesn't even see fit to respect the legislature."
Democratic Party chairwoman Emily Lau Wai-hing endorsed that view.
Tam Yiu-chung, chairman of the Beijing-loyalist Democratic Alliance for the Betterment and Progress of Hong Kong, disagreed. "The Legco president, lawmakers, and the officials share the responsibility for making sure a 'fiscal cliff' doesn't emerge in Hong Kong," Tam said, referring to the possibility that the government might run out of money.