英文

Editorial:Storm over possible ousting of lawmakers

【明報專訊】A new political storm has blown up in the Legislative Council shortly after the resumption of Legco meetings in the extended term. The concern now is about whether the National People's Congress Standing Committee (NPCSC) will add an item to its agenda to deal with the disruption of Legco's operation. As the possibility of the NPCSC disqualifying several pan-democratic lawmakers cannot be ruled out, the pan-democratic camp has stated clearly that they will ''resign en masse'' in response if that happens. Legco meetings have been adjourned thrice for lacking a quorum since Legco's resumption last month. Until now, only four uncontroversial bills have been passed. It is one thing to filibuster the legislation of controversial bills, but it is another thing to paralyse the legislature by ''scorched-earth'' tactics. Likewise, it is one thing to stop scorched-earth politics, but it may also provoke a serious backlash if the action is too heavy-handed. Things are bound to develop in the opposite direction if pushed to the limit. If all parties ignore the constraints, are dead set against each other and reject communication, there will be no peace for Hong Kong.

Beijing has implemented the national security law not only to curb ''Hong Kong independence'' and interference by external forces, but also to tackle the paralysis of the Legislative Council. Before departing for an NPCSC meeting in Beijing this week, committee member Tam Yiu-chung criticised pro-democracy lawmakers for having disrupted the normal operations of Legco ceaselessly since the resumption of Council meetings in October by abusing the Rules of Procedure and the quorum call. He said they had violated their obligations as Legislative Council members by trying every means to force the adjournments of meetings. Whether the issue of handling the problem of Hong Kong Legco's operation will be added to the agenda of the upcoming NPCSC meeting has become a concern of all sides.

Article 104 of the Basic Law requires all Legislative Council members to espouse the Basic Law and swear allegiance to the Hong Kong SAR. The National Security Law for Hong Kong stipulates that it is an offence of subverting the state power if anyone ''seriously interferes in, disrupts, or undermines the performance of duties and functions in accordance with the law by ... the body of power of the HKSAR''. Rumour in the political circles has it that a number of pan-democratic lawmakers will likely be disqualified. The democrats have stressed that the pro-democracy lawmakers will resign en masse if anyone of them is disqualified.

The purpose of a legislature is to solve rather than create problems. A lawmaker is supposed to join a legislature with the aim of getting things done rather than trying to stop things from being done. The pan-democratic camp has stressed that asking for a headcount is in accordance with the Basic Law and the requirement of Legco's Rules of Procedure. Technically speaking, that is very true indeed. However, if the roll is called for more than ten times a day and more than two hours are wasted merely on this, one can certainly say this is not what the Rules of Procedure are originally intended for. Nor could this be the expected scenario when the Basic Law was formulated.

Although filibustering is allowed in parliamentary culture as a way to stop the passing of highly controversial bills, it should be supported by legitimate reasons and be done to a reasonable extent. Malicious filibustering with an aim to paralyse the government is certainly not the purpose of the legislature. One month into the resumption of meetings, Legco has already been adjourned thrice due to the lack of a quorum. Only four bills have been passed so far. Even simple amendments to bills were adopted only after some arduous work. They were only technical amendments that have nothing to do with any ''evil law''.

It is understandable why ''scorched-earth politics in Legco'' has become the concern of the central government. Still, it is best to leave the issue of Legco's internal operation to Legco itself. If the central government takes the strong action of disqualifying the lawmakers directly, it will certainly lead to the biggest political shock waves, which is undesirable.

明報社評 2020.11.10:立法會風雲再起 物極必反要留神

立法會延任復會未幾,政治波瀾又起,外界關注人大常委會是否加插議程,處理立法會運作受干擾問題,不排除有多名泛民議員被「DQ」(取消資格),泛民表明會以「總辭」應對。立法會上月復會以來三度流會,迄今僅通過4項無爭議的法案。針對有爭議法案「拉布」是一回事,令議會半癱瘓「攬炒」又是另一回事;同樣,阻止政治攬炒是一回事,倘若出手過重,也有可能引來激烈反彈。事情做得太盡,物極必反,不理局限只管死鬥拒絕溝通,香港難有寧日。

中央推出《港區國安法》,除了針對「港獨」和外部勢力干預,亦將癱瘓議會列作打擊對象。全國人大常委會本周在北京開會。常委譚耀宗赴京前批評,立法會10月復會以來,民主派議員濫用《議事規則》響鐘點人數,不斷干擾議會正常運作,以各種手段製造流會,違反立法會議員職責。今次人大常委會會議,會否加入新議程,處理有關香港立法會運作的問題,成為各方關注焦點。

《基本法》第104條,要求議員擁護《基本法》及效忠香港特區,《港區國安法》則提到,「嚴重干擾、阻撓、破壞特區政權機關依法履行職能」,會觸犯顛覆國家政權罪。政界流傳,多名泛民議員可能被褫奪議員資格。民主派強調,一旦有議員被「DQ」,民主派議員將總辭。

議會存在的目的是解決問題而非製造問題,議員加入議會理應是為了做事情,而非設法阻止做事情。泛民強調,要求點人數符合《基本法》及立法會議事規則要求,從技術上而言的確如此,然而一天會議點算人數超過10次,單單為此浪費超過兩小時,肯定不是議事規則的初衷,也不可能是《基本法》最初制定時所期望出現的情况。

議會文化容許拉布,阻撓極具爭議法案通過,可是亦要合理合度,惡意拉布癱瘓政府施政,肯定不是議會制度設計目的。立法會復會一個月,已三度流會,迄今僅通過4項法案。簡單修訂都要千辛萬苦方能通過,這些技術性的法例修訂,跟「惡法」完全沾不上邊。

中央關注「議會攬炒」可以理解,不過立法會內部運作問題,最理想仍是由立法會自行處理。由中央直接出重手「DQ」立法會議員,政治震盪一定最大,並不可取。

■/ Glossary 生字 /

en masse /ˌɒ̃ ˈmæs/:all together, and usually in large numbers

adjourn /əˈdʒɜːn/:to stop a meeting or an official process, especially a trial, for a period of time

quorum /ˈkwɔːrəm/:the smallest number of people who must be at a meeting before it can begin or decisions can be made

■英語社評聲檔:link.mingpao.com/53000.htm

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