Chief Executive Carrie Lam has rebutted claims made by lawmakers that, after the legislature’s procedural rules are amended, the Legislative Council will not be able to stop the government from passing legislature with detrimental effects for Hong Kong people.
“I’ve been working in the government for 37 years – this government, whether it’s this administration or the last, will not do anything that would harm the public,” she said at a regular press conference on Tuesday.
She added that it was inappropriate to use these excuses to oppose the debate on amending the Rules of Procedure.
The pan-democratic camp held a protest outside the Legislative Council on Monday evening to protest pro-Beijing lawmakers’ attempts to change the legislature’s procedural rules. The proposals are aimed at curbing the opposition’s filibustering efforts.
The camp has warned that amending the rules would mean that the government would face no opposition on issues such as the legislation of Article 23 – the national security law.
Article 23 of the Basic Law was shelved in 2003 after half a million marched in protest out of fear that its legislation would have a negative effect on civil liberties.
On Tuesday, Lam said: “My stance on Basic Law Article 23 is clear. This matter is controversial, and there must be an environment for rational discussion in society before we can carry out our constitutional duty.”
“Amending the Rules of Procedure and Article 23 are two completely different things,” she added.
Democratic Party lawmaker Andrew Wan said it was “outrageous” for Lam to make such comments and accused her of defending the pro-establishment party.
Wan accused Lam of “lying” when she said that, as part of the executive branch, she will not interfere with legislature proceedings. “Where are all the motions – such as the stamp duty bill?” he said, referring to the bill that was delayed to make way for passing the non-binding motion on the joint checkpoint arrangement.
“If the pan-democrats and the pro-establishment party are indeed at war, then Carrie Lam is the commander-in-chief – or at the very least the chief of staff,” he said.
Wan added that the reason for amending the Rules of Procedure was so that the government will be able to fund its billion-dollar white elephant projects and pass “unreasonable” bills without delay.