The abrupt decision by Chief Executive Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor to postpone her annual policy address may have stolen the limelight from the Legislative Council yesterday. But that did not mean the legislature was devoid of drama when members returned to the chamber for an extended one-year term amid the Covid-19 pandemic. Lamentably, the usual tactics and bickering prevailed, dampening hopes of an end to a long-standing stalemate. For want of a policy speech until possibly late next month, lawmakers were left to deal with a handful of outstanding bills that would have lapsed by the end of the usual four-year term. Sadly, what was deemed to be a routine amendment bill, to streamline judicial proceedings in the wake of a surge in judicial reviews and non-refoulement claims by refugees, became yet another excuse to launch verbal attacks. Questions were raised over the status of some members during the extended term, and several opposition lawmakers were challenged for speaking beyond the scope of debate. Countless minutes were also spent on ringing the quorum bell for members to return to the chamber, a usual tactic employed to delay and disrupt proceedings. Such a performance does not bode well for the coming year. It is unclear whether it was a show of discontent by the opposition after Lam and her top ministers shunned Legco for an event officiated by President Xi Jinping in Shenzhen. But the tension would have been just as high had the chief executive showed up as usual. The increasingly politically charged atmosphere has made the legislature an arena for confrontation. With the city still struggling to tackle the coronavirus and sentiments lingering from last year’s social unrest, the way forward is hardly reassuring. Adding to the tension is a threat under Article 22 of the national security law that says anyone found to be “seriously interfering in, disrupting or undermining the performance of duties and functions” of the local or central governments is guilty of subversion. Whether the usual delaying and disruptive tactics of the opposition amount to a contravention remains to be seen. But a dysfunctional legislature is hardly in Hong Kong’s interest.