Legislative Council President Andrew Leung has rejected a proposal by ten pro-democracy camp members to discuss their amendments to the legislature’s rules ahead of proposals put forward by the pro-Beijing camp.
Last week, pro-democracy lawmakers made an impromptu move to submit 39 “constructive” amendments to be debated at a full council meeting on November 15. The plan would be discussed ahead of the pro-Beijing camp’s proposals in an effort to block them from passing their own amendments to curb filibustering by democrats.
Normally, proposed amendments are first sent to the Committee on Rules of Procedure (CRoP) and then to the House Committee for review. But there are no written rules suggesting that proposals cannot be directly discussed at full council meetings – usually the final stage.
However, Leung insisted on the usual practice, saying that the amendments were significant and it would be “more appropriate” to go through all three steps, since changing the rules will involve Article 75 of the Basic Law.
The Article stipulates that the rules of procedure shall be made by the LegCo on its own: “As the President, I should observe this. I have therefore referred the proposed resolutions to CRoP in accordance with Rule 74(1) of the Rules of Procedure,” Leung said.
He said that he will only consider whether the proposed amendments are admissible after they have been discussed at the CRoP and the House Committee level.
Asked if the pro-democracy camp lawmakers broke any rules in choosing to directly submit suggestions to the full council, Leung did not give a clear answer but repeated his statement that it would be more appropriate to follow the usual practice.
He also said it was his own decision after receiving advice from the LegCo secretariat and legal advisers.
Alternative plan considered
Legal sector lawmaker Dennis Kwok said the pro-democracy camp expected Leung’s decision and were not disappointed: “Andrew Leung breaks his promises, he abuses his powers, he is biased – it is within our expectation,” Kwok said.
Kwok said Leung did not say any of the 39 amendments they submitted broke any rules.
“It proves that our practice [to submit to the full council directly] is in line with the Rules of Procedure,” he said.
A group of pro-democracy lawmakers were barred from sitting in on a CRoP meeting on Monday. At the time, Kwok criticised the meeting as amounting to malpractice.
“Paul Tse, the chair of the CRoP, is not capable of hosting meetings fairly,” he said, adding that the pro-democracy camp has already come up with an alternative plan to bypass Leung’s decision, though he would not reveal details yet.