Legislative Council President Andrew Leung has defended the idea of amending the legislature’s Rules of Procedure, saying that it has always been done in the past and that it is not a “monster.” However, he said he holds a “neutral” stance on the issue.
The pro-democracy camp lost its veto power at the Legislative Council after six lawmakers were disqualified by the court. It meant the democrats no longer have enough seats to block bills, motions and amendments from the pro-Beijing camp using its majority in the seats obtained by direct elections.
Before any by-elections are held to fill the seats, the pro-Beijing camp can change the Rules of Procedure to stop filibustering – a last resort measure used by the democrats in a legislature controlled by the pro-Beijing camp.
As legislative sessions commenced on Friday following the summer break, Leung said that the Rules of Procedures “have to be compatible with the way the legislature currently works.”
“I think it’s appropriate to form a Committee on the Rules of Procedure to deal with it in accordance with suitable procedures… As the president, I hold a neutral attitude in dealing with the matter,” he added.
Leung also said he had not yet received pro-democracy lawmakers’ question on the controversial joint checkpoint arrangement for the Express Rail Link, and added that he will follow the Rules of Procedure, which states which questions can be asked.
Earlier this week, pro-democracy lawmakers said they were informed by the secretariat that their question will likely be rejected by Leung, after Chief Executive Carrie Lam announced that the government plans to move a non-binding motion on the arrangement.
Junius Ho remarks
Asked about Junius Ho’s remarks on “killing” independence advocates at a rally last month, Leung said that Legislative Council presidents usually do not comment on the conduct of legislators outside of the Legislative Council.
When asked whether Ho’s actions will affect the legislature’s image, Leung said legislators have to be responsible for what they do, and added that the public is watching.
Earlier on Friday, lawmaker Claudia Mo said she will move a motion of censure against Ho’s remarks. Under LegCo’s Rules of Procedure, the LegCo president shall declare that a member is no longer qualified for office when he or she is censured for misbehaviour or breach of oath by a vote of two-thirds of the members present.
Leung also said, with regards to seeking the wages and subsidies of four disqualified pro-democracy lawmakers, that the legislature’s legal counsels have been on holiday and that they are still seeking legal advice.
As for the Legislative Council’s earlier demand that two ousted Youngspiration lawmakers repay almost HK$2m in wages and subsidies, Leung said the matter has been handed over to lawyers. The duo has said that they will not repay the amount and that they see no legal basis for doing so.