Hot on the heels of its recent initiatives to amend the meeting rules of the Legislative Council Finance Committee in order to ban filibusters by the opposition, the pro-establishment camp attempted to push its perceived victory for even further gain by proposing to tweak the Legco Rules of Procedure so as to ban filibusters in Legco general meetings as well.
As a matter of fact, amending the Legco Rules of Procedure to ban filibusters has long been at the back of the mind of the pro-Beijing camp, only that it was unable to do so in the past since the pan-democrats were holding the majority of seats in the geographical constituencies, which gave them the veto power against any attempt to ban filibusters under the existing split voting system.
However, as a total of six pro-democracy lawmakers have been disqualified by the court so far, members of the pro-establishment camp are now calling the shots in both the geographical and functional constituencies, thereby presenting them with a golden opportunity to propose whatever amendment they want to the Rules of Procedure.
Last week, members of the pro-establishment camp submitted to the Legco Committee on Rules of Procedure 12 amendments to the Rules of Procedure. To name a few, they have proposed to raise the threshold for presenting a petition to the Council, from the current practice of requiring the endorsement of 20 lawmakers, to 35. And they have also proposed to empower the Legco president to re-summon a Council meeting on the same day it is adjourned as a result of the absence of a quorum. Last but not least, they have also proposed to strip lawmakers of the power to move any motion to shorten the length at which the voting bell is rung during Council meetings.
These proposed ideas will be discussed next Monday.
If they eventually succeed in getting all of their 12 amendments passed by Legco, that would definitely spell the end for filibustering, which has over the years remained the last means the pan-democrats could resort to in order to stall or block unpopular government bills.
It is also said that two heavyweights have rallied behind the pro-establishment camp in helping to plan its amendment initiatives, i.e. former secretary general of Legco secretariat Pauline Ng Man-wah and former legal adviser to Legco secretariat Jimmy Ma Yiu-tim, both of whom are unrivaled experts in the Rules of Procedure and Legco affairs.
However, in an unexpected move, the pro-democracy camp on Wednesday submitted to the Legco Secretariat 34 amendments to the Rules of Procedure of Legco. These proposed amendments are seen as a “sudden” attempt to prevent the pro-establishment camp’s plan to tighten the Legco’s rules of procedure.
The pan-democrats’ proposed amendments include one that Legco presidency should be assumed by a Chinese citizen who is a permanent resident of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region, with no right of abode in any foreign country in the past seven years.
The pro-democracy camp’s latest move has caught the establishment camp unawares. It is now mulling its options as to how it should respond.
This article is a summary of two articles that appeared in the Hong Kong Economic Journal on Oct 18 & 19
Translation by Alan Lee
[Chinese version 中文版 Oct 18][Chinese version 中文版 Oct 19]
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