The time has come for too much talking to stop
Legco president Tsang Yok-sing holds a televised meeting to vote on amendments after a marathon debate.
Photo: Felix Wong/SCMP
Legco president took right action to halt filibustering
By Jason Cheung Tsz-him, Pok Oi Hospital Chan Kai Memorial College
The recent case of filibustering in the Legislative Council triggered fierce debate. The government says filibustering disturbs Legco's normal work as it causes the postponement of discussion of many bills.
The pan-democrats wanted to use filibustering to stop the by-election bill by drawing out the legislative process, prolonging the time of the meeting until the lack of a quorum forced the debate to end.
Legco president Jasper Tsang Yok-sing stopped the filibustering using article 92 of the house rules which states: "In any matter not provided for in these Rules of Procedure, the practice and procedure to be followed in the Council shall be such as may be decided by the President who may, if he thinks fit, be guided by the practice and procedure of other legislatures."
But this action was seen as controversial by lawmakers from People Power and the League of Social Democrats, who disapproved of Tsang's judgment.
Lawmaker "Long-Hair" Leung Kwok-hung appealed by applying for a judicial review, but failed.
While I respect what the PP and the league did in order to satisfy their political purposes, their list of trivial amendments just disabled the process and meant no one could do anything. The situation was out of control. Limitation was a must.
Throughout this month Tsang suffered great political pressure and he was obliged to stop this political disobedience. But after he fulfilled his responsibilities, lots of people pointed fingers at him. As Legco president, Tsang was just trying to find a balance between the obligations of all the lawmakers and the efficiency of Legco. Obviously, everyone knows that the filibustering had to be stopped one day in the overall interests of the work of Legco. Tsang was the only one who could and should take this action. There was no other way out than his judgment.
Tsang is being seen as the "sinner" while pan-democrats are looked at as the "innocent people". Is this fair?
Some claim Tsang has "broken tradition", but I think he made a big political sacrifice in order to clean up the mess.
By examining his past record Tsang can been described as just and fair. It is unwise to judge a person without considering their previous behaviour.
I hope everyone, including the pan-democrats, can be fair to Tsang and understand why he did what he did.
There are upcoming bills that are also controversial. But using filibustering is just a case of opening a Pandora's box. I urge everyone not to overlook the power of this box which could damage our whole system and our people.