High Court rejects judicial review of end to filibuster

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 20 May, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 20 May, 2012, 12:00am


The High Court yesterday rejected a lawmaker's application for a judicial review of Legislative Council president Tsang Yok-sing's move to end a filibuster by democrats.

Tsang had on Thursday invoked for the first time powers in the Legco's rules of procedure to stop a 33-hour debate on a controversial bill to restrict by-elections. Pan-democrats said the move was politically motivated.

League of Social Democrats legislator 'Long Hair' Leung Kwok-hung wanted the court to rule that Tsang went beyond his powers in ending the debate, or to issue a temporary injunction freezing his decision.

Announcing his decision, Mr Justice Johnson Lam Man-hon said he would explain his ruling this week.

At an event yesterday, 'Long Hair' Leung said he would have difficulty paying the estimated HK$200,000 in costs. 'I am the poorest lawmaker in the Legislative Council,' Leung - who held a fund-raising activity last night - said. A legislator's monthly salary is about HK$70,000. Other pan-democrats said they would discuss ways of helping Leung, who was seeking legal advice on whether to appeal.

Tsang told the media yesterday that 'even if the court accepted the case, I am confident that we, including the legal advisers and secretary general will be able to persuade the judge that the decision did not breach any law'.

He suggested the rules of procedure by reviewed to restrict the amount of time lawmakers can spend debating an amendment.

Chief executive-elect Leung Chun-ying said he respected the judgment. Beijing-loyalist lawmakers welcomed the decision, saying the court should not interfere with the procedures and rules of Legco. But the Civic Party called on Tsang to step down.

Speaking on Commercial Radio yesterday, Tsang rejected the claim that he had colluded with lawmaker Philip Wong Yu-hong, who raised the request to terminate the debate.

'I had been intending to terminate the meeting for some time, as it could not go on forever,' Tsang said. 'I could have controlled the timing better if I had made the call instead of it being raised by other lawmakers.'

Tsang said he had heard of Wong's intention to request the debate be ended two days beforehand, via the Legco secretariat, but he had not discussed it with Wong.

Of his decision to accept the filibuster - 1,300 amendments to the proposal tabled by People's Power legislators - Tsang said he was 'suffering from my own deeds'. 'I was criticised by the pro-establishment camp, including by members of my own party. But if I had to do it again, I would still do it this way,' he said.