Date
25 April 2018
Hong Kong's Legco passed changes to its Rules of Procedure, proposed mostly by the pro-establishment camp, late Friday. Eleven pro-democracy lawmakers were ordered to leave the chamber during the proceedings. Photo: HKEJ
Hong Kong's Legco passed changes to its Rules of Procedure, proposed mostly by the pro-establishment camp, late Friday. Eleven pro-democracy lawmakers were ordered to leave the chamber during the proceedings. Photo: HKEJ

Pro-Beijing camp’s success on Legco rules may prove an own-goal

As the pro-Beijing camp has succeeded in pushing through amendments to the existing Legco Rules of Procedure, many people may be under the impression that the pan-democrats are now deprived of their last resort (i.e. filibusters) to stall unjust and unpopular bills put forward by the government.

However, I feel compelled to point out that the discussion is somewhat off the mark. To tell the truth, Legco, even if the Rules of Procedure were left unchanged, could hardly strike down any government bill or funding request such as those pertaining to bloated infrastructure projects. 

It is because under the Basic Law, all the government needs is a simple majority vote (i.e. 35 votes) in the legislature to secure passage of any bill, be it enactment of Article 23 of the Basic Law or the so-called “brainwashing” national education curriculum. Currently there are around 40 pro-establishment lawmakers in Legco, so the math is as simple as it gets.

Instead, what truly mattered was, as long as the pan-democrats could hold on to their one-third “decisive” minority vote, they could block “unjust” bills such as ejecting a lawmaker from office or amending the Basic Law, all of which require a two-thirds majority vote in Legco.

Unfortunately, that one-third minority vote held by the pan-democrats is now hanging by a thread after six of them have been disqualified by the court.

What I am trying to say here is, despite the fact that the pro-Beijing camp has succeeded in tilting the balance of the Rules of Procedure in its favor, it doesn’t necessarily indicate the complete failure of the resistance movement in Legco.

Rather, by having changed the Legco meeting rules to impose their “tyranny of the majority” upon the pan-democrats, members of the pro-establishment camp have literally torn apart the last shred of dignity of our legislature, thereby paving the path for a new wave of even more radical and thorough resistance movement, because the gloves are now off and we no longer have to worry about preserving the dignity of Legco.

Moreover, since everybody now knows the pan-democrats can no longer exercise their oversight powers, the pro-Beijing camp and the government will be held fully accountable by the public for any bad decision and poor policy in the future.

And the mounting public grievances could in turn set Hong Kong on a course toward another massive social resistance movement.

In other words, it is just a matter of time before the pro-establishment camp pays for its evil deeds.

This article appeared in the Hong Kong Economic Journal on Dec 14

Translation by Alan Lee

[Chinese version 中文版]

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JC/RC

HKEJ contributor

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