5 October 2012 SCMP
The man who brought lawmakers’ marathon 33-hour filibuster to an end said he would do it again as he staked his claim for a second four-year term as president of the Legislative Council.
Jasper Tsang Yok-sing, from the Beijing-loyalist Democratic Alliance for the Betterment and Progress of Hong Kong, is confident of victory.
He called his re-election on Wednesday “a political reality", given that he has only one rival, the Civic Party’s leader, Alan Leong Kah-kit, and given the pan-democrats’ minority position – 27 versus 43 pro-government legislators.
But he emphasised yesterday that he would always listen to pan-democrats’ suggestions and opinions, “because I know co-operation is still needed". He added: “I have to face all legislators regardless of whether Alan Leong runs or not."
While pledging to be open to opinions from across the political spectrum, Tsang also made it clear that there were promises he could not make – including the pan-democrats’ request that he never halt a filibuster again.
The 33-hour filibuster in May by members of People Power and the League of Social Democrats opposed to amendments to by-election rules ended when Tsang halted the debate.
This intervention drew criticism that he had abused his powers.
He was unrepentant yesterday. “My promises are very simple – I will abide strictly by the rule of procedures, the Basic Law and the law [of Hong Kong]. I will also fully protect the lawmakers’ right of speech, and at the same time, protect the effective operation of the legislature.
“If you ask me to promise that I would never kill any filibuster, how could I do that? Forget the pro-establishment lawmakers, even my voters would find it unacceptable."
Tsang reiterated that the marathon filibuster – a delaying tactic in which a debate is extended in order to wreck a vote on a proposal – had hamstrung the legislature’s operations.
He also referred to a ruling by the High Court in May that lawmakers had no constitutional right to launch a filibuster.