The president of the Legislative Council on Monday ordered to end a filibuster on the budget bill by Tuesday.
Jasper Tsang Yok-sing ordered that the remaining 131 debates would be merged and ended by Tuesday at 1pm. This would be immediately followed by a vote on each of the amendments.
Four radical legislators earlier filed 710 amendments to the budget bill in an attempt to force the government to include a universal pension scheme and a HK$10,000 cash handout in the bill.
Legco has spent 55 hours in recent weeks to complete 17 of 148 debates on the amendments.
Speaking after a two-hour closed door meeting with lawmakers, Tsang announced his decision to cut short the debate, saying it would otherwise drag on for one more month and affect government operations.
“To support the operation of the government, I think Legco has the responsibility to complete scrutiny and vote on the budget bill at a reasonable time,” he said.
Tsang said a vote on the bill was expected by next Wednesday, May 22. This would, though, be beyond a May 15 deadline set by the government.
His decision was opposed by pan-democratic legislators, who said it seriously weakened Legco’s role as a check and balance to the executive arm.
People Power’s Wong Yuk-man, one of four legislators who launched the filibuster, shouted angrily at Tsang. “Shame on you, Tsang Yok-sing. Shame on you!” he said pointing at the Legco president.
But pro-government lawmakers supported Tsang’s decision. Ip Kwok-him, from the Democratic Alliance for the Betterment and Progress of Hong Kong, said it was appropriated to cut short the debate.
He said the whole city had to pay a price if the filibuster dragged on.