Legco's back - and so are filibuster tactics

Top News | Michael Shum 15 Oct 2020

The new Legislative Council year opened yesterday with filibustering as the pro-democracy lawmakers criticized Chief Executive Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor for postponing her policy address.

They were rebuked by Legco president Andrew Leung Kwan-yuen, who said that, despite the importance they seemed to attach to the address, they had tried to obstruct its delivery last year.

The address was originally scheduled for yesterday, but was postponed to late next month with Lam saying she needed more time to secure Beijing's support for some of her economic policies.

Lam was in Shenzhen yesterday. She has said she will be in Beijing later this month as she needs the central government's blessing for economic policies which she hopes to include in her policy address.

The Democratic Party's Ted Hui Chi-fung, the accounting sector's Kenneth Leung Kai-cheong, HK First's Claudia Mo Man-ching and the social welfare sector's Shiu Ka-chun demanded five quorum calls during the 180-minute morning session.

"[It] is the lawmakers' obligation to question the address," said the Labour Party's Fernando Cheung Chiu-hung. But Andrew Leung retorted he had already issued a circular to explain the postponement.

"If lawmakers have a constitutional obligation to listen to the policy address, why would the pro-democracy camp obstruct its delivery last year?" he said.

Lam had to deliver her address last year via video recording after two failed attempts in the Legco chamber amid protesting by pro-democracy lawmakers.

Cheung argued that he was in hospital for treatment during last year's address.

"The postponement shows that Legco is no longer Hongkongers' legislature and the chief executive no longer represents Hongkongers," he said.

Cheung also condemned the government for postponing the Legco elections for a year as the "Basic Law states that lawmakers' terms shall be four years."

Secretary for Justice Teresa Cheng Yeuk-wah also came under fire for not showing up in the morning.

The legislature was vetting a bill to amend the number of judges needed to grant leave for a judicial review to two judges, instead of the original three, allowing more staff flexibility at the judiciary.

The pro-democracy camp opposed the amendment, with the Democratic Party's Roy Kwong Chun-yu and Leung targeting Cheng's absence.

"Cheng should [be answering] questions regarding the amendment, but she opted to go to Shenzhen," Kenneth Leung said.

Cheng later showed up in Legco for the afternoon session.

michael.shum@singtaonewscorp.com

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