The general public is worrying that the “non-cooperation movement” initiated by the pan-democratic lawmakers is pushing the Legislative Council’s operation to the verge of paralysis. For the sake of social stability, there should be countervailing forces in the council to end filibustering.
Advancing their political appetites recklessly, the 27 pan-democratic legislators launching “non-cooperation movement” in the Legislative Council is paralyzing the council. An array of government funding proposals pending approval has been left piling up. Even with repeated scheduling and re-scheduling, the funding requests can only be squeezed into the Legislative Council meeting agendas at most. Scarcely can they be put into discussion, let alone to be approved. The chaotic situation has impeded and procrastinated a large number of major public infrastructure projects and livelihood-related works. If the stalemate persists, local social development and governance and efficiency of the Hong Kong Government will be hindered, and Hong Kong’s economy and society as a whole will suffer even more significant harm.
Dismayed and anxious about the stagnation of the Legislative Council, the public feel powerless to do a thing but condemn filibustering. But this is what the pan-democrats hope for, and that is why they refuse to let it go. Some of them have even admitted they are exactly trying to “drag down” the Government, aiming at posing a threat to the Administration.
Yet, their “aspirations” are in fact the “nightmares” of the majority of society. The political tactics of the pan-democratic lawmakers are no different from “playing with fire”. In case the Legislative Council and the HKSAR Government are really paralyzed, Hong Kong will be sent to anarchy with every established order overturned. And its social order, legal system and social stability will all be wiped out. That will be complete chaos. To prevent the situation getting out of control, there must be countervailing forces against these irresponsible actions in the Legislative Council. An effective buffer should be set up to protect our social stability. Therefore, I and other pro-establishment Legislative Council members are regarded by the pan-democratic members as stumbling blocks. Yet, as far as the interest of the whole society is concerned, the harsher are their comments, the better we can prove our actions right.
Neglecting Constitutional Duties
In all fairness, it is not in the interest of society to have the Legislature getting radical or split into distinct camps of no mutual dialogue and cooperation. Worse still, what the pan-democratic lawmakers doing is neglecting their solemn constitutional duties they vow to the council.
According to Article 73 of the Basic Law, the functions of the Legislative Council include “(1) to enact, amend or repeal laws in accordance with the provisions of this Law and legal procedures; (2) to examine and approve budgets introduced by the government; (3) to approve taxation and public expenditure; (4) to receive and debate the policy addresses of the Chief Executive; (5) to raise questions on the work of the government, etc. All these important constitutional duties which involve public interest are now used by the pan-democratic legislators as a weapon to threaten the Administration.
Legislative Council’s Function Weakened
In the midst of filibustering, the pan-democrats have raised a large number of trivial and nonsense amendments or motions, frequently requested for quorum and made lengthy speeches. To justify their political moves, some lawmakers argued that the government proposals are so controversial that special tactics should be used to monitor public money. Others say claimed their actions merely “questioning” rather than “filibustering”, exercising the “most basic power to propose bills and make inquiries”. These self-deceiving arguments can hardly fool the public but themselves.
Some would say “filibustering” also exists in the legislatures of other countries. In response, I would like to make two points. First, “filibustering” in other countries’ legislatures is not unrestrained and endless as such. At the end of the day, lawmakers of other countries will respect the public opinions and safeguard the overall social interests. Second, “filibustering” in other countries co-exists with “closures”, mechanisms to end “filibustering”. It is unacceptable that just a few “filibustering” legislators can undermine the Legislature’s constitutional function.
So far, not just highly controversial proposals are being “filibustered” but it applies to all. The consequences of such an abusive tactic are profound. No matter how rational or insightful your policy suggestions, your exercising the power to propose bills amendments and make inquiries are, they will all be drowned in the overwhelming filibuster of amendments, motions and voting procedures. In the end, Members in the Legislative Council will never undergo any concrete and rational debates. How can the public get to know what are the grounds of your inquiries and reasons of your opposition. This will discourage lawmakers from making attempts of raising sensible questions. In consequence, the public can hear no rational debate but only noises in the Legislative Council, and this will in turn erode the function of the law-making body in monitoring the Government.
Even worse, if “filibustering” occurs so frequently that the public sees it as a norm of the Legislative Council, no one would take the lawmakers’ deliberations seriously. What good can this kind of Legislature do to the public?
As a matter of fact, “filibustering” has time and again brought the whole society into crises. Over the past two years it pushed Hong Kong to towards a “public fiscal cliff” when the Legislative Council was examining the Government’s Fiscal Budgets. Our citizens could remember clearly that last year’s Appropriation Bill was approved only on 4 June - suffering a three-week delay from the mid-May “deadline”. As the temporary Appropriation then was inadequate to pay the public expenditures for after May, society was deeply worried. The Government postponed its June funding to the Hospital Authority, the Legislative Council and tertiary institutions, and requested them to use their own reserves for contingency. It was heard that the Hospital Authority had once considered selling its assets to meet urgent needs. This year’s Budget will soon be presented to the Legislative Council. Is the public going to worry about another looming crisis soon?
Truth be told, the destructive tactic of “filibustering” will result in an all-lose situation. If the pan-democrats really care about the well-being of Hong Kong, they should stop pushing society to a dead alley by “filibustering” and return to the right path of dialogue.
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