Pro-democracy lawmaker Charles Mok has accused the pro-establishment camp of filibustering in order to delay the summoning of the scandal-hit secretary for justice. Pro-democracy lawmakers had been hoping to question Teresa Cheng about illegal structures at her home.
Following an inspection, the Buildings Department confirmed last month that there were nine illegal structures at Cheng and her husband’s properties at Villa De Mer in Tuen Mun.
Under Article 73 of the Basic Law, lawmakers are allowed to raise questions about the government’s work and summon officials. Mok’s motion requests that Cheng answer questions relating to the structures and hand over materials relevant to the property, her husband’s business relationships with the government, and details of her pre-appointment integrity check.
The motion was accepted by Legislative Council President Andrew Leung last month. However, a majority is needed from both the functional and geographical constituencies for it to pass. It will likely be rejected by the pro-Beijing camp, which holds a majority.
If the motion is not dealt with by Thursday, it will no longer be effective, as the deadline stipulated in the motion for Cheng to be summoned is February 28, and Thursday’s meeting is the last before the Lunar New Year break. However, legislators have been debating a bill preventing shops from selling alcohol to minors since Wednesday, with the pro-establishment camp making several speeches, RTHK reported.
Mok said that, during the discussion of an uncontroversial alcohol bill, the pro-establishment legislators have spoken about Chinese philosopher Mencius, electronic payments, as well as national security legislation and “learning to drive in the US.” The bill was eventually passed on Thursday afternoon.
“It’s very clear that the pro-Beijing camp is filibustering so that we will not have a chance to discuss the motion on summoning Teresa Cheng before the meeting ends at 8pm today,” he said, expressing regret at the move.
Mok said that it was not that the pro-Beijing camp do not have a right to engage in filibustering, but they should not criticise others for doing so in the future. He also said the camp should admit that they are filibustering, and that their goal is to delay the matter so that the public will forget about the Cheng controversy.
Mok said that, as the budget speech will be coming up, it will be May – or later – by the time a motion on Cheng can be raised again.
Lawmaker Eddie Chu withdrew a motion on the Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macau Bridge project, but another government bill — which takes priority over lawmakers’ motions — has to be dealt with before the motion on Cheng.
Pro-establishment camp convener Martin Liao denied that the camp was filibustering. He said the lawmakers were speaking relatively more than they previously did because the pro-democracy camp are no longer engaging in filibustering. New house rules were passed last month to prevent the pro-democracy camp from playing for time.
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