LegCo rules should be changed to stop filibustering, says pro-Beijing lawmaker

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Pro-Beijing lawmaker Priscilla Leung has said that she received many requests from members of the public to amend the legislature’s meeting rules and stop filibustering.

The pro-democracy camp lost its veto power at the Legislative Council after six lawmakers were disqualified by the court. The camp often blocked bills, motions and amendments from the pro-Beijing camp using its majority in the seats obtained by direct elections. But the democrats no longer have enough seats to do so.

Before any by-elections are held to fill the seats, the pro-Beijing camp can change the Rules of Procedure to stop filibustering – a last resort measure used by the democrats in a legislature controlled by the pro-Beijing camp.

Priscilla Leung Mei-fun. File Photo: HKFP/Catherine Lai.

Methods of filibustering include calling for headcounts – which creates a 15-minute buffer period if there are not enough lawmakers in the chamber – making long speeches, and stopping lawmakers from speaking by raising procedural questions, among others.

Priscilla Leung of the pro-Beijing Business and Professionals Alliance for Hong Kong said a change of the rules should be considered owing to public demand.

“In term of social atmosphere, I believe we should consider changing the rules, since it has not only been requested by lawmakers. During the election last year, the public hoped we would do so – I received a lot of requests yesterday,” she said on a Commercial Radio programme on Monday.

She added that the public hoped for order in the legislature. “You can debate, you can cast opposing votes, but do not do this meaningless thing [filibuster]… this thought is spreading among the public.”

andrew leung

LegCo President Andrew Leung. File Photo: Legislative Council.

Leung, a lawyer, is a member of LegCo’s Committee on Rules of Procedure. She said the committee discussed measures in the past, such as shortening the time allowed for speeches, but no consensus has been reached, even in the pro-Beijing camp.

“Some believed the LegCo president already has the discretion power [to stop filibustering] – it is very useful,” she said. Article 92 of the Rules states that the president can decide on the procedure to be followed on any matter not provided for in the Rules.

Leung said she believed political parties will continue the debate on changing the rules at the committee.

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