Legislative Council chief Andrew Leung Kwan-yuen has urged lawmakers to utilize the legislature’s current recess period to introspect and prepare themselves for the upcoming session with a new spirit of cooperation.
The pro-establishment and the pan-democratic camps, who have been engaged in bitter tussles in the recent past, must replace hostility with cooperation in the new session that begins next week, Leung said.
In an interview with the Hong Kong Economic Journal, Leung noted that there are multiple bills and resolutions on Legco’s agenda for deliberations this year, and that both camps have a lot of room to cooperate.
Lawmakers are elected by voters to serve all of the people in Hong Kong rather than to fight each other, the legco president said.
He called on lawmakers to cherish the meeting time, pointing out that there have been no bills passed since Legco started its 2017-18 meeting year in October.
The situation has caused the backlog number of bills waiting for second reading to be eleven, a list that includes important legislation such as the Stamp Duty (Amendment) Bill 2017 and the Supplementary Appropriation (2016-2017) Bill.
Leung said he has been working hard to mend the relationship between the two political camps, especially after the pan-democratic camp fought intensely but failed to block amendments of Legco’s meeting rules.
He did not elaborate on what exactly he did to try to improve the ties.
Changes to the rules were proposed by the pro-establishment bloc in October in a bid to curb the ability of the pan-democrats from interfering with discussions through filibustering, a tactic that opposition lawmakers had been resorting to frequently in recent years. They were passed on Dec. 15 after Leung ordered several additional meetings.
Stressing he had not been partial to any side, Leung claimed all he tried to do during the process was ask both sides to sit down and have dialogues, only to be forced to resort to set procedures after finding out their views were too divided to allow any negotiation.
Asked about accusations from the pan-democrats that he ignored the opinions of Legco-hired barristers and demanded a vote on lowering the quorum as Legco president, Leung defended himself by saying that he made the decision after consultation with Legco’s legal adviser and that he was advised that the action may not contravene the Basic Law.
Leung admitted that his power is more clearly defined and illustrated than before after the rules of procedure were changed, meaning it would be easier and more convenient for him to do his job in the future.
He promised to consult all of the lawmakers despite the fact that he has from now on the power to decide whether to continue a meeting even though there is an insufficient quorum.
For the second reading debate on the bill regarding the co-location arrangement for the Guangzhou–Shenzhen–Hong Kong Express Rail Link, Leung believes it may not happen until June.
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