The entire pro-establishment bloc in the Legislative Council sought to revise the meeting rules of the chamber’s finance committee before the panel holds its next meeting on Friday.
The move aims to deter democratic lawmakers from interfering with discussions of funding requests through filibusters as they had done before, the Hong Kong Economic Journal reports.
A total of five proposals were jointly signed by all the 37 pro-establishment lawmakers, except committee chairman Chan Kin-por, deputy committee chairman Michael Tien Puk-sun and Legco chairman Andrew Leung Kwan-yuen.
They include allowing only one request for adjournment of the proceedings on each agenda, abolishing the session for debates on moving a motion, limiting the number of non-binding motions that can be submitted by lawmakers to one, and empowering the chairman to decide how long a meeting should last.
If they are passed, democrats will no longer be able to use filibuster tactics that they had resorted to in the past to block discussions, such as filing as many motions as possible and requesting debates on them.
The pro-establishment lawmakers demanded a special session to discuss the suggestions soon after the new session begins.
The democrats criticized the suggestions, saying they would limit lawmakers’ capability to deliberate as well as weaken Legco’s power to oversee the administration.
Chan, the committee chairman, said he has sent a chairman’s guide on the finance committee’s meeting rules to lawmaker Charles Mok Nai-kwong, who convenes democrats’ meetings.
According to the guide, each committee member is allowed to speak for no more than one minute on an agenda, compared with three minutes under the current rules, and lawmakers ejected from a meeting are not allowed to rejoin the meeting within the same day.
Chan said the guide has a solid legal basis and is totally fair and reasonable, adding that rulings and decisions made by him as committee chairman need no debates.
Mok said the democrats hold a positive attitude about how the committee functions. He said he has written to Chief Secretary Matthew Cheung Kin-chung to express the hope that agendas be arranged in such a way that easier ones are discussed first before the more difficult ones.
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