Finance chief puts foot down on filibustering

Top News | Sum Lok-kei Jul 18, 2017
Legco Finance Committee chairman Chan Kin-por says the time for tolerance of filibustering is over and that he will press on with voting once he considers enough time has been spent on discussions.

He has also ruled out additional meetings on Thursday and Friday before Legco goes into recess.

"The time for tolerance has passed," Chan said yesterday. "I will adhere to the rules and procedures and firmly proceed to voting if I think enough time has been spent on discussions."

He said most lawmakers are not available for extra meetings on Thursday and Friday, and so the last eight hours tomorrow are Legco's final before the recess.

To speed things up, Chan said the government has also condensed 18 items awaiting approval into eight.

The current outlook puts the education budget first in line, followed by an establishment item concerning the creation of a chief inspector's post for air-traffic accidents.

The third is an integration of 12 public works projects that include funding for the expansion of three public hospitals and the Tseung Kwan O desalination plant project.

Chan said lawmakers will only vote once as some of the projects met no opposition in past public works subcommittee meetings.

The fourth in the queue is the Tung Chung reclamation project, followed by funding for a columbarium site in Sandy Ridge, the Central Kowloon Route, relocation of a homeless shelter in Yau Ma Tei and, finally, the adjustment of civil servants' salaries.

Chan said the final agenda awaits the government's confirmation, but it should not veer too far from the sequence.

He said the government has arranged the items in order of importance and urged the pan-democrats to "let go of their frustrations" and focus on processing them.

Asked if he is expecting opposition, Chan said the education funding should pass with no problem, but the same cannot be said for the other items.

After meeting with members of the pro-democracy camp yesterday, Chan said some of the more "stubborn" lawmakers told him that the committee would not be able to pass all items.

If lawmakers resort to filibustering tactics or try to disrupt the meeting, the chairman said he will strictly follow the rules and procedures and put items to a vote in a timely fashion.

But Chan said he will not use the full extent of his power as this may harm the relationship between lawmakers of different political parties.

He said he will allow lawmakers to debate when it is relevant.

It is understood that the pan- democrats will pass the education budget before resorting to filibustering over the other items.

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