Hot on the heels of its recent success in amending the Legislative Council Rules of Procedure, the pro-establishment camp is now seeking further gains by proposing to change the meeting rules of the Legco finance committee in its favor.
And many believe it would be a slam dunk for the pro-Beijing camp, since, unlike the Legco Rules of Procedure, it only takes a simple majority vote in the finance committee to secure the passage of the amendments.
As the battle over the Rules of Procedure has already drawn to a close, the pro-Beijing camp said the door for dialogue with the pan-democrats has always been open.
According to sources, the pro-establishment camp was ready to offer terms as a gesture of goodwill in exchange for a truce with the opposition.
For one, they were willing to withdraw their proposal to raise the threshold for presenting a petition to the Legco from the current practice of requiring the endorsement of 20 lawmakers, to 35, if the pan-democrats would go easy on other amendments they were proposing, the sources said.
But the pan-democrats refused the offer, so they had no choice but to mount a full court press, the sources added.
However, Charles Mok Nai-kwong, convenor of the pan-democrats, told a different story.
Mok said no one has ever put that option on the table, nor did anyone from the pro-Beijing camp or pro-democracy camp ever propose to discuss the option during the meetings between the “communication groups” of both sides. Nobody proposed that even after those meetings, either.
He criticized members of the pro-establishment camp for being hypocritical and trying to play the “Monday morning quarterback” over the issue.
If the pro-Beijing legislators were sincere in seeking a ceasefire as they claimed, all they had to do was to unilaterally withdraw their amendments over the threshold for tabling a petition, Mok said.
Some pan-democrats also questioned the feasibility of such an “offer”. They noted that all the 24 amendments to the Rules of Procedure were tabled by lawmaker Martin Liao Cheung-kong in one “basket”.
As such, extracting any one of these amendments for negotiation is a complicated move from a procedural point of view, unless they get the approval of Legco president Andrew Leung Kwan-yuen.
This article appeared in the Hong Kong Economic Journal on Dec 22
Translation by Alan Lee
[Chinese version 中文版]
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