Date
20 January 2017
Some pan democrats leave their seats when Chan Kam-lam calls for an end to discussion and a vote on the funding request. Photo: RTHK
Some pan democrats leave their seats when Chan Kam-lam calls for an end to discussion and a vote on the funding request. Photo: RTHK

Divided Legco adjourns express link budget debate to March

Eight hours of heated debate Saturday in the Legislative Council over the government’s request for an extra HK$19.6 billion (US$2.52 billion) in funding for the Hong Kong-Shenzhen-Guangzhou high-speed rail link ended inconclusively.

Even before discussions of the project began, pan-democrats questioned the legitimacy of the extra weekend session of Legco, leading to a 45-minute subdebate on that subject, Apple Daily reported Monday.

The lawmakers eventually questioned Secretary for Transport and Housing Anthony Cheung Bing-leung about the funding request.

Saying Cheung gave answers that were too vague, Labour Party legislator Fernando Cheung Chiu-hung moved to suspend the debate, only to be voted down by pro-establishment lawmakers.

Later, acting president Chan Kam-lam, a member of the pro-establishment Democratic Alliance for the Betterment and Progress of Hong Kong (DAB), announced that each lawmaker could only speak for two more minutes, angering pan-democrats, eight of whom occupied the rostrum and asked Chan to explain his ruling.

Chan then ordered the eight legislators to be evicted, eliciting loud criticism from lawmakers of the pan-democratic camp.

Lawmaker Emily Lau, chairwoman of the Democratic Party, said Chan had broken the rules of Legco.

She demanded that he avoid subjecting the system to any further violence.

A second motion to end the debate, brought by Civic Party lawmaker Kwok Ka-ki, was once again voted down, before pan-democrats occupied the rostrum for the second time.

Chan then announced an adjournment, saying lawmakers will be consulted about holding another meeting next month to review the funding request.

The government said Sunday it would hold a meeting with MTR Corp. (00066.HK) to discuss whether it is necessary to suspend construction work on the high-speed rail link.

Civic Party lawmaker Alan Leong Kah-kit said the project has enough funds to carry on until the end of July.

Leong said he will discuss with other pan-democrats how best to tackle the issue.

Lawmaker Starry Lee Wai-king, chairwoman of the DAB, said what pan-democrats did during the meeting was shameful and will only further smear Legco’s image.

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