Pan-dems stop rail terminus motion in its tracks - RTHK
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Pan-dems stop rail terminus motion in its tracks

2017-10-25 HKT 18:29
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  • Pan-dems stop rail terminus motion in its tracks
Pan-democrats have held up a scheduled Legco debate on a controversial plan to station mainland officials at the West Kowloon terminus of the future Express Rail Link, despite the government's earlier attempts to ensure the discussion got underway as planned.

Officials say the so-called co-location arrangement – enabling passengers to pass through mainland immigration checks before boarding trains across the border – is crucial to ensure speedy and convenient trips. But critics say the arrangement would be a serious breach of the Basic Law.

Debate on a non-binding motion put forward by the government to show support for the rail station proposals was supposed to start on Wednesday. But Land Justice League lawmaker Chu Hoi-dick sprung a surprise by asking instead for a comprehensive debate on a banking bill, which would ordinarily be treated as a simple procedural matter taking up little time.

Legco president Andrew Leung said he had no choice but to allow Chu's unusual move. But Leung said he thought the effect would be limited being as each lawmaker would only be allowed to speak for a maximum of 15 minutes on the banking bill.

DAB leader Starry Lee said pan-democratic lawmakers were taking advantage of "loopholes" in the rules of procedure.

"These rules of procedure have not been applied for long. They've only been applied now we have a motion to talk about co-location. It is very obvious to us that some members may want to take more time to drag on [discussions] so that the co-location debate cannot start today," Lee said.

"We know that they are trying to get every means to stop the co-location arrangement," Lee added.

Last week, the government angered pan-democrats by making a last minute change to the Legco agenda, dropping a planned debate on stamp duty to try and make sure the rail station motion would not be delayed. Lawmakers from the pro-democracy camp then started filibustering proceedings to show their displeasure at the move.

The council's rules of procedure have also become a bone of contention recently, with both camps putting forward their own suggestions for changes, and Finance Committee chairman Chan Kin-por issuing his own directives to limit disruption to meetings.

More than a hundred people rallied outside the Legislative Council as opposition lawmakers stalled the debate.

Pro-democracy lawmakers, politicians and student leaders took turns to speak to the crowd. They criticised the government for proposing an arrangement that violates the Basic Law and puts Hong-kongers in danger.

Organisers of the rally, the convenor of the Co-Location Concern Group, and Civic Party lawmaker Tanya Chan, rejected accusations from the pro-establishment camp that they're trying to delay the opening of the express rail-link.