Expect filibustering as Hong Kong Innovation and Tech Bureau debate returns for a fourth time

Lawmakers' new session starts with familiar topic as possibility of filibustering looms large

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 17 October, 2015, 7:01am
UPDATED : Thursday, 21 June, 2018, 2:58pm

Fresh filibuster attempts loomed large in the legislature as the Leung Chun-ying administration sought start-up funding on Friday for the long-debated innovation and technology bureau - for the fourth time.

Moderate pan-democrats signalled they would not join their radical allies' plan to delay a vote at the Finance Committee amid sensitive timing in the run-up to the district council elections.

Albert Chan Wai-yip of People Power, who filibustered against the establishment of the bureau previously, said he and party colleague Raymond Chan Chi-chuen would table about 250 motions to seek adjournment of the debate.

He estimated the motions would take four meeting days - which means one month as the committee meets once a week - to go through. Independent Wong Yuk-man would also table motions to filibuster, according to Chan.

"I have to word the motions very carefully and submit them in batches," Chan said.

Three sessions in the same number of weeks had so far been scheduled to deal with the issue. The committee chairman can invalidate motions if they are trivial or repetitive.

But since other pan-democrats had been asking questions in yesterday's meeting, Chan said he would hold off tabling the motions until no one had any more inquiries.

In the first committee meeting for the new legislative year yesterday, newly-appointed chairman Chan Kin-por, the lawmaker representing the insurance sector, said there would be a vote as soon as there was no lawmaker to raise a question.

"I'm frightened if no lawmaker speaks," he said. "I don't want to be accused of launching an attack."

Chan, of the pro-establishment camp, denied he had any conflict of interest with the bureau proposal and also pressed commerce minister Greg So Kam-leung - who is overseeing innovation matters until a new bureau is formed - to answer Civic Party lawmaker Alan Leong Kah-kit's questions more clearly.

Leong was asking for details about the work of the new bureau.

READ MORE: Tech bureau, lead-in-water scandal and private columbariums among heated debates as Hong Kong's Legislative Council reconvene

Raymond Chan questioned how much GDP contribution would be boosted with the new bureau's effort.

"As to how much GDP will increase, I have no crystal ball. But that is the direction [to boost the economy]," So said.

So also told lawmakers he could not answer everything on behalf of the incoming minister, whose identity remains officially unknown but is speculated to be former Polytechnic University scholar Nicholas Yang Wei-hsiung.

The government wanted lawmakers to approve HK$25 million in start-up funding for the bureau, and cover staff costs of HK$36.5 million.