Christmas push on Legco rules changes

Local | Sum Lok-kei 7 Dec 2017

The president of the Legislative Council says he is prepared to hold more meetings to push through amendments to the rules of procedure before Christmas.

The pro-democracy camp, however, has vowed to stop the changes using "all means possible."

Yesterday's meeting began with oral inquiries and moved on to last week's motion by pro-Beijing lawmaker Lo Wai-kwok to adjourn debate for the commencement date of the amended trainee solicitors rules at 1.45pm.

The pan-dems then made 10 quorum calls that took up close to two hours. The meeting was adjourned at 7.30pm and Lo's motion was not put to a vote. The meeting will resume at 9am today.

Legco president Andrew Leung Kwan-yuen had earlier decided to combine discussion and voting of 12 proposed changes and 54 further amendments while limiting the speaking time for each lawmaker to 15 minutes. Leung said he hopes voting can be completed before Christmas but rejected suggestions that it was a "hard deadline."

He sent letters to lawmakers seeking their opinions on extra meetings next Friday and Saturday and December 18.

Asked if the meetings could be held should there be a boycott by pan-democrats, Leung said if there was enough lawmakers to make a quorum - 35 - they could be held.

Leung said his decision to combine the debate and voting for the proposed amendments was "nothing new."

"I am following past practices, so there's nothing new, nothing decided by me that's different unless the House Committee agrees to divide it into different sessions."

He said that in 2011, then president Jasper Tsang Yok-sing combined the debate of two amendments to Legco's rules of procedure.

In a separate press conference, the pro-democracy camp said the changes to the rules of procedure will pave the way for legislation on Basic Law Article 23.

Pro-democracy camp convener Charles Mok said lawmakers will use all means possible to stop the changes while, at the same time, trying to avoid physical conflicts.

The camp also called on supporters to gather outside Legco at 7pm today. Mok said lawmakers will meet the public and brief them on issues related to amending rules.

Civic Party lawmaker Alvin Yeung compared the situation to an unfair football match. He said the referee - Leung - is allowing the game to run on indefinitely until the pro-establishment camp "scores a goal."

He also admitted the pan-dems' tactics are limited but refused to disclose further details.

Democratic Alliance for the Betterment and Progress of Hong Kong chairwoman Starry Lee said lawmakers from her party will "sit tight" inside the chamber to prevent the meeting from being adjourned due to the lack of a quorum.

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