Three pro-democracy lawmakers known for starting filibusters at the Legislative Council have vowed not to stall the debate on the approval of temporary funds for the government.

Lawmakers “Long Hair” Leung Kwok-hung, Ray Chan Chi-chuen and Albert Chan Wai-yip had been constantly calling for headcounts at LegCo sessions to stall the controversial copyright bill, until it was shelved earlier this month. The delay has resulted in a much shorter time for remaining bills to pass before the current LegCo term ends in July.

The government has put forward a temporary resolution to unlock crucial funding needed between April 1 – when the funding from the last fiscal year ends – and the day that the 2016 budget is passed.

Ray Chan Chi-chuen
Ray Chan Chi-chuen. File

“The government should not have spent so much time on the copyright bill,” Ray Chan told reporters at LegCo. “It should have been shelved, or an adjournment should have been proposed. In fact, we had enough time to clear the bills on the agenda.”

Chan added that they would still call for headcounts to summon lawmakers back to the chamber to debate the temporary funding, if there were not enough lawmakers present.

“Our goal is not to terminate the meeting, but we think that [if] there are not enough lawmakers at the LegCo… [it] should not handle such an important issue,” Chan said.

John Tsang at a radio programme on the annual budget.
John Tsang at a radio programme on the annual budget. Photo: GovHK.

Passed ‘by Friday’

Albert Chan called for a headcount during the meeting on Wednesday, saying that the attendance of pro-Beijing camp lawmakers was “disappointing.”

But he said that pro-democratic lawmakers would be present in the chamber during headcounts, thus it would not be necessary for 35 pro-Beijing camp lawmakers to be present all the time in order to maintain quorum.

Chan estimated that the temporary funding would be approved by Friday after 15 to 18 hours of debate, if the meeting is not terminated due to low attendance.

The debate on the full annual budget expenditure will resume on April 20.

Financial Secretary John Tsang Chun-wah said on Wednesday that he thought lawmakers “fully realise” the importance of the temporary funding for livelihood issues.

“I think they do understand that, and so I would appreciate that they would pass that expediently,” Tsang said.

Kris Cheng is a Hong Kong journalist with an interest in local politics. His work has been featured in Washington Post, Public Radio International, Hong Kong Economic Times and others. He has a BSSc in Sociology from the Chinese University of Hong Kong. Kris is HKFP's Editorial Director.