The president of the LegCo, Jasper Tsang, has vowed to foreclose obstructive filibusters, as he did last summer, if the LegCo is unable to bring changes to the Rules of Procedure and if the toxic climate of the assembly remains unchanged, Joseph Li spoke to him recently. [more]
Last May, three opposition lawmakers mounted a filibuster aimed at forcing the government’s withdrawal of a controversial bill creating a new mechanism for filling vacant Legislative Council (LegCo) seats.
The debate dragged on for 33 hours spanning seven meeting days, until LegCo President Jasper Tsang invoked his power to end the debate. His decision sparked an angry response from the opposition parties.
In June, the opposition resorted to the same tactics to block a government reorganization proposal by the incoming government. The proposal eventually failed after being pushed to the bottom of the agenda, as the opposition continued to obstruct until the legislative session lapsed. As the 2012-16 legislative term commenced, the opposition mood of obstruction has returned.The oppositions and trade unionists declared their opposition to the Old Age Living Allowance, demanding cancellation of the income/assets declaration mechanism for people over 70.
Recalling his decision to stop the filibuster in May, Tsang said he allowed legislators to introduce amendments in accordance with the Rules of Procedure. Although the 1,306 amendments were similar and widely considered to be frivolous, Tsang allowed them, saying he could judge each amendment on its own merits, and could not consider all of the amendments as a whole.
“But I decided to stop the filibuster, because the debate had continued for over 30 hours, with only three legislators speaking. There was no longer any meaning to the debate. Both our legal adviser and expert Malcolm Jack, the former clerk to the UK House of Commons, pointed out that I had the duty to maintain the effective operation of the legislature,” he explained. ... [more]
On the OALA filibuster
On the day of China Daily’s exclusive interview with Legislative Council President Jasper Tsang, the proposal to fund the Old Age Living Allowance (OALA) was up for debate for the fourth time, and the fourth consecutive week by the Finance Committee. The interview was interrupted by the voting bell which chimed every minute, while opposition activist lawmaker Leung Kwok-hung obstructed the debate, by filing more than 100 trivial amendments, many of which dealt with the number of adjustments that ought to apply to the proposed living allowance, per year.
Tsang was reluctant to comment on the Finance Committee filibuster, or even to say whether valuable time and resources were being wasted, on the ground that he does not sit on the committee, and that the flow of the meeting should be decided by the chairman and committee members. ... [more]
Universal suffrage in the hands of HK people
PC has just concluded. Legislative Council President Jasper Tsang has called upon the people of Hong Kong, to reflect carefully on the remarks of state leaders on recent development in the SAR, during the national congress.
The next few years, Tsang observed, will be very important for the development, especially the constitutional development of Hong Kong. But he fears that an inharmonious society, sometimes reflected by the recent outbreaks of anti-mainland sentiment, is not conducive to a consensus among the people for implementing universal suffrage models for elections in 2017 and 2020, nor is it acceptable to the Central Government, although the universal suffrage timetables are already there.
Tsang noted that President Hu Jintao’s report on Hong Kong at the 18th national congress was the longest among those delivered at the four past congresses. Very interesting, since 1997, each national congress has coincided with a new Chief Executive in Hong Kong. This year, however, saw a spate of negative events preceding the national congress.
The first, he pointed out, was the bitter duel within the pro-establishment camp during the Chief Executive election.
There followed adverse news reports reflecting badly on the Leung Chun-ying administration and accusations of interference in Hong Kong affairs, leveled by the opposition at the Central Government’s Liaison Office in Hong Kong.
In August, a massive anti-national education campaign erupted. There were also incidents during which visitors from the mainland were urged to go back home by some demonstrators. The protests culminated with protesters waving colonial British-Hong Kong government flags. ... [more]
“This year, I observed that President Hu’s report on Hong Kong was rather long and revealed new thinking,” Tsang said.
“Besides stressing the prosperity and stability of Hong Kong as he did before, he put the development and security of the country in first place. The other point is that whilst ‘One Country’ must be respected, the differences between the ‘Two Systems’ should be understood. The president also called upon the people of Hong Kong and Macao to take pride in being Chinese nationals.
“I think his remarks are targeted, pinpointing the central government’s essential views on what happened in Hong Kong in the past months and such views merit serious reflection among the people of Hong Kong.”
The central government has given its blessing that Hong Kong may elect the next Chief Executive through universal suffrage in 2017. The 2020 LegCo may also be returned by universal suffrage. ... [more]