Hard moment of truth for Legco stays on hold

Top News | Sophie Hui 11 Nov 2020

The administration does not want to see any "big changes" in the Legislative Council, acting chief executive Matthew Cheung Kin-chung said ahead of an expected directive from Beijing's top legislative body on disqualifying legislators over filibustering.

His comment came after all 19 pan-democratic lawmakers threatened to resign en masse if Beijing disqualifies any of them.

Word on Monday was that at least four legislators - the Civic Party's Alvin Yeung Ngok-kiu, Dennis Kwok Wing-hang and Kwok Ka-ki and the Professionals Guild's Kenneth Leung Kai-cheong - are likely to be unseated as they had already been disqualified when they sought reelection before the legislative elections were postponed for 12 months until next September.

The issue of filibustering could have been discussed in the two-day meeting of the National People's Congress Standing Committee, which ends today in Beijing.

But it is understood members will only establish a framework for disqualification and authorize the Hong Kong administration to reach a decision. It will not name any lawmakers who could be unseated.

Speaking before an Executive Council meeting yesterday, Cheung refused to comment on media reports.

"We're not in a position to comment on speculative reports," he said. "So I'm afraid you have to excuse us that at this stage we have nothing to offer, nothing to comment on."

But he claimed the public regarded as "very serious" the opposition camp making quorum calls to disrupt legislative meetings.

He said a quorum call should be made only when necessary as the legislature serves the public for their livelihood and their benefit as well as the SAR's development.

"Of course, the government does not want to see any big changes in the Legislative Council," he added, and "the NPCSC hopes that members of Legco can perform their duty as a way to put Hong Kong forward. Therefore, we do not wish to see conflicts over it."

Democratic Party chairman Wu Chi-wai reiterated that before the central and the SAR governments make any move the pan-democratic camp will continue serving rather than moving on any mass resignation.

But resigning collectively could again focus international attention on Hong Kong, Wu added.

Legco president Andrew Leung Kwan-yuen refused to comment on disqualification reports until there is word from the NPCSC. But he said people know the issue "fairly well" as 80 quorum calls have been made in the past four weeks.

The Basic Law allows lawmakers to make quorum calls, Leung said, but they need to take into account legislative operations.

"The right of legislators is one thing, but the operation of the council also needs to be addressed."

Executive councillor Ronny Tong Ka-wah said: "Many people kept testing the bottom line of the central government over the past few years. I think the central government has the responsibility to draw clearly, one by one, its bottom lines."

Tong said a mass resignation is not in line with the spirit of the council and a healthy legislature needs opposition voices.

He urged the pan-democrats not to go as they will not be able to continue fighting for democracy.


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