Outgoing Legislative Council president Jasper Tsang Yok-sing said that bills not being passed in the legislature could not be simply attributed to filibustering by individual lawmakers; rather, it reflected the “collective will” of the concerned parties and how they all had different political considerations.

In a column in AM730 on Monday, Tsang said that the last meeting of the legislative session ended with lawmakers yelling at each other and there was insufficient time to go through many items on the schedule, including three bills.

The session ended at midnight last Friday, and the three bills were The Medical Registration (Amendment) Bill, a bill on private columbaria and a bill on fire services.

Jasper Tsang Yok-sing. File Photo: Stand News.

Tsang said as that was the case in the last Legislative Council session, many lawmakers were unable to make their farewell motions – when councillors traditionally expressed their feelings towards the conclusion of the session and make their last speeches – which was a pity, especially for veteran lawmakers who do not intend to run again.

However, Tsang said, while the previous session was able to pass bills that concerned the people’s livelihood, during this session, lawmakers were forced to abandon not only the farewell motion but three bills that received “widespread support” in society. Therefore, it was difficult for them to escape criticism from the public.

‘Lose-lose situation’

Tsang said that the three bills not passing did not come as a complete surprise, but it also was not an outcome that had been foreseen by the government or the majority of lawmakers. This “lose-lose” situation, he said, resulted from a series of complicated factors and cannot be simply attributed to filibustering by individual lawmakers.

File photo: HKFP.

“As the events develop, all relevant parties including government officials and lawmakers belonging to different parties all have different political considerations, and passing those three bills has not always been a priority. Or perhaps you could say, the bills not passing reflected the collective will of the parties; the only ones who are left feeling disappointed, remorseful or helpless are the members of the public.”

“Maybe a lot of people think that the performance of the Legislative Council is ridiculous. But if we were to count ridiculous phenomena in politics, having a couple of bills not pass in the legislature is nowhere near as ridiculous the result of the Brexit vote, or having Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump go against each other in the US elections,” Tsang said.

Tsang said last Friday that the work of the legislature over the past four years cannot be described as very satisfactory, but the majority of lawmakers have fulfilled their responsibilities under the existing system.

Karen is a journalist and writer covering politics and legal affairs in Hong Kong for HKFP. She has also written features on human rights, public space, regional legal developments, social and grassroots activism, and arts & culture. She is a BA and LLB graduate from the University of Hong Kong.