The Legislative Council saw its first adjournment since the chamber’s return from summer recess on Thursday, with democrats being criticized for using the “roll call” strategy to achieve their purpose of obstructing discussions on the government’s co-location plan for the Express Rail Link, the Hong Kong Economic Journal reports.
Chief Secretary Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor announced on Tuesday that the government wants to put off the stamp duty debate to a later date so that lawmakers can focus on a non-binding motion that the government is tabling with regard to joint checkpoint arrangements for the Guangzhou-Shenzhen-Hong Kong rail system.
Legco passed the motion on Thursday and was about to debate on another motion moved by the Secretary for the Environment Wong Kam-sing regarding an amendment to the Energy Efficiency (Labelling of Products) Ordinance, but Democratic Party lawmaker Hui Chi-fung moved for a roll call to check if there was a quorum.
Legco rules stipulate that the “quorum of the council and of a committee of the whole council shall be not less than one-half of all its members including the president or chairman”.
With just 34 attendees, the roll call was one member short of the required quorum.
That being the case, Legco president Andrew Leung Kwan-yuen announced the session was adjourned.
Data from the Legco Secretariat shows that meetings in the past days took a total of 15 hours with 27 roll calls accounting for 4.5 hours or about a third of the time.
Lawmaker Martin Liao Cheung-kong, dubbed as the “class monitor” of the pro-establishment camp, said their bloc had not reached a consensus on the adjournment.
Starry Lee Wai-king, who heads the pro-Beijing Democratic Alliance for the Betterment and Progress of Hong Kong, slammed democrats for using the roll call tactic to postpone discussions on purpose, adding that such a move highlights the necessity of amending the rules of procedure of the chamber.
In response, lawmaker Charles Mok Nai-kwong, who convenes democrats’ meetings, said the continuing demand for a roll call was meant to show their opposition to the administration’s propensity to put politics, referring to the controversial co-location plan, before people’s livelihood, referring to the stamp tax.
Mok also said the pro-establishment lawmakers should be responsible for the adjournment since they outnumber the democrats in the chamber.
While expressing disappointment over the adjournment, Leung said discussions over the non-binding motion on the co-location plan will be at the top of next meeting’s agenda, followed by the amendment of the Mandatory Energy Efficiency Labelling Scheme.
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