'Lawmakers have the right to vote down budgets' - RTHK
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'Lawmakers have the right to vote down budgets'

2021-01-06 HKT 17:56
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  • 'Lawmakers have the right to vote down budgets'
The pro-democracy camp has accused the government of retaliating against politicians who have the people's backing, as they pointed out that lawmakers have a right to vote down budgets if they see fit.

Earlier on Wednesday, police had linked the idea of lawmakers rejecting government budgets to the arrests of 53 people under the national security law, suggesting that even advocating such a move could amount to subversion.

But Civic Party chairman Alan Leong noted that it is the constitutional right of lawmakers to vote against a budget.

He said the Basic Law provides for check and balances, in that the chief executive can dissolve a legislature which votes down a budget, but he or she must resign in the event that a new legislature vetoes the spending plan again.

"These provisions guarantee the power of Legco, to scrutinise the executive, and vice versa. These were constitutionally enshrined provisions. We don't see how, by promising to exercise such rights, this would end up with them being subversive," Leong said

He said more importantly, nothing could materialise anyway if the would-be candidates were not voted into the legislature, pointing out that the 2020 Legco polls were cancelled in the end.

The chairman of the Democratic Party, Lo Kin-hei, said it was clear that the authorities had decided against listening to the people, and to instead use different ways and laws to retaliate.

He said the national security law is gradually becoming a catch-all piece of legislation.

"Any political camp should be allowed to hold primary elections freely to pick candidates, this is very reasonable and normal. There's nothing irregular," Lo told reporters at a press conference.

"If you can bend the laws and say a primary violates the national security law, as well as slogans, and even holding up a piece of white paper....these excuses will keep coming."

The head of the police's national security department, Steve Li, had compared the arrests over the Legco primaries to the force having a duty to stop robberies from taking place if it could.

The chair of the League of Social Democrats, Raphael Wong, said if this is true, then the force's inaction over the many months since the primaries would amount to a dereliction of duty.

If the polls really were such a serious crime, why did the police wait more than five months to respond, he questioned.