The Legislative Council President has slashed more than 550 amendments to the annual budget that pro-democracy lawmakers submitted for debate.

Of the 742 amendments submitted by 20 pro-democracy lawmakers, 185 were approved for debate by Andrew Leung Kwan-yuen, who said some of the amendments were “unintelligible and inaccurate” and others were “frivolous or meaningless.” Some pro-democracy lawmakers submitted the amendments as a way to delay the passing of the budget.

LegCo will begin the debate over the budget drafted by finance secretary Paul Chan Mo-po on Wednesday.

andrew leung
Andrew Leung. File Photo: Legislative Council.

Leung said the number of amendments proposed was an important point of consideration. He said he was able to strike a balance between the power and function of LegCo to examine and approve budgets with the right of lawmakers to participate in the legislative process.

“Based on the council’s past experience, there was little exchange of views among members during the debates on such [amendments] – considerable time was also spent on quorum calls,” Leung said.

All amendments were from democrats. “Long Hair” Leung Kwok-hung, who vowed to filibuster the budget debate and demand a universal pension scheme, submitted 522 amendments but only 28 were approved for debate.

budget amendments
Photo: LegCo

People Power lawmaker Ray Chan Chi-chuen proposed 67 amendments; 45 of them were approved. Nathan Law Kwun-chung, Lau Siu-lai and Eddie Chu Hoi-dick together proposed 104 amendments and 65 were approved.

Leung Kwok-hung accused president Andrew Leung of stripping lawmakers of their constitutional right to monitor the government. He said he would seek legal advice and consider lodging a legal challenge.

“Andrew Leung should be [Chief Executive-elect] Carrie Lam’s chief secretary,” said Leung Kwok-hung.

Leung Kwok-hung
Photo: HKFP/Catherine Lai.

Last year, democrats proposed 2,168 amendments for the budget debate. At the time, Leung Kwok-hung proposed some 1,500 amendments, and 160 were approved by then-president Jasper Tsang Yok-sing.

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.