Monday, December 22, 2014   




Last-minute drama as budget passed at last

Beatrice Siu

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

After 13 days and 100 hours of debate, the budget was passed last night, three hours ahead of the deadline set by Legislative Council president Jasper Tsang Yok-sing.

The bill was passed by 38 votes to 16 with one abstention, but not before some last-minute drama when three radical lawmakers - the League of Social Democrats' Leung Kwok-hung, and People Power's Albert Chan Wai-yip and Ray Chan Chi- chuen - were thrown out of the chamber after one of the them insinuated Tang is a member of the Communist Party. Lawmaker Fernando Cheung Chiu- hung walked out later.

The third reading of the Appropriation Bill 2013 and the provisions were approved at about 7.10pm and the more than 700 amendments raised by the lawmakers negated.

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The debate began at around 2pm. At 3pm, Tsang decided to cut off the debate by restricting four lawmakers to one last address. But this did not sit well with the three radical lawmakers.

"If you prepared your previous one-hour speech properly, you should have covered all the points you wished to raise," Tsang said.

Leung then repeatedly shouted out: "Are you a Communist Party member?"

Civic Party lawmaker Kwok Ka-ki criticized the shortening of the debate, saying 70 lawmakers had, in effect, just one hour to debate the budget.

Federation of Trade Unions lawmaker Wong Kwok-hing expressed concern at whether recipients of Comprehensive Social Security Assistance and Old Age Allowance would receive money in time.

Democratic Alliance for the Betterment and Progress of Hong Kong lawmaker Starry Lee Wai- king said that if there were any delays, the lawmakers who launched the filibuster should be blamed.

Financial Secretary John Tsang Chun-wah welcomed the passing of the budget.

"The government will try to complete all the necessary administrative and accounting procedures so that the various departments and government organizations can obtain their funds and to minimize the effects on public services," he said.


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