反對立法會修改議事規則,以削弱其議政及監察權力

2017年12月13日

(學者邀請公眾參與簽名運動 - 反對立法會修改議事規則,以削弱其議政及監察權力)

近日立法會建制派議員在民主派因宣誓風波失去否決權之際, 提出修改議事規則。我們反對是次修訂,因修訂一旦通過, 將嚴重削弱立法會現時僅有些微監察政府的權力,讓本來已坐擁巨大權力的行政機關, 更不受立法會監管, 令香港邁向獨裁政體機會大增。上述觀點, 理據如下:

首先,建制派聲稱修改《議事規則》的目的是要制止拉布。細看他們建議,當中有些修改與拉布完全無關。例如建制派議員建議將調查官員的提名門檻由20人提升至35人, 民主派過去三次提出呈請書調查官員,包括調查湯顯明先生任職廉政專員期間的外訪、酬酢、調查高鐵工程延誤超支和梁振英UGL事件, 整個過程約只需5分鐘,不構成亦無需拉布。 把提出呈請書的門檻增至35位議員,無疑是要得到建制派議員同意,才能成立委員會。最終是未來的專責委員會根本不大可能成立,往後立法會將更難對涉嫌失職官員提出調查, 官員或公職人員濫權的代價亦變得更小。

另外,建制派議員提議將法案全體委員會階段的法定在席人數由35人下調至20人。出席立法會會議審理議案根本是議員職責,如今建制派建議減少法定人數,而非鼓勵議員履行責任出席會議,是本末倒置,自降標準, 更違反《基本法》第75條有關「香港特別行政區立法會舉行會議的法定人數為不少於全體議員的二分之一」的規定。

此外,建制派議員提出將中止討論議案的門檻, 如全體委員會主席阻撓, 議員將不能以中止討論的方式將無理的議案和惡法撤回,主席可以下令把惡法表決, 大幅削弱議員減低行政濫權和失誤的權力。

議員無權議事,立法會無法以會議程序、議事權力形成壓力, 監察政府,日後政府推動劣政、惡法的成本便大減,政府亦根本不用回應立法機關及民意。

若是次建制派成功將《議事規則》修訂,政府要通過違反公益和人權的惡法,包括廿三條立法在內,立法會將更難透過議會審議和爭取大眾的支持, 加以遏止 。政府將更容易成為權力不受制約的獨裁政權代表, 全港市民將會受害。

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發起團體及學者 (姓氏筆劃序)
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* 學術自由學者聯盟
* 成 名 (香港科技大學副教授)
* 李展華 (香港教育大學高級講師)
* 何芝君 (明愛專上學院客座教授)
* 杜耀明 (香港浸會大學助理教授)(已退休)
* 邱祖淇 (香港浸會大學講師)
* 周保松 (中文大學副教授)
* 馬 嶽 (香港中文大學副教授)
* 敖恆宇 (香港中文大學教授)
* 梁志遠 (香港理工大學專任導師)
* 梁恩榮 (教育大學客席副教授)
* 郭儀芬 (香港大學前助理教授)
* 陳士齊 (香港浸會大學高級講師)
* 陳清僑 (嶺南大學教授)
* 陳家洛 (香港浸會大學副教授)
* 陳燕遐 (香港中文大學高級講師)
* 梁旭明 (嶺南大學副教授)
* 馮偉華 (香港城市大學專上學院高級講師)
* 陸潔玲 (香港理工大學香港專上學院講師)
* 傅景華 (香港大學副教授)
* 莊耀洸 (香港教育大學高級講師)
* 黃志偉 (香港城市大學專上學院講師)
* 黃偉國 (香港浸會大學助理教授)
* 許漢榮 (香港教育大學講師)
* 張楚勇 (香港城市大學高級特任講師)
* 潘達培 (中文大學專業應用副教授)
* 蔡寶瓊 (中文大學客席副教授)
* 蘇耀昌 (香港科技大學講座教授)
* 龔立人 (中文大學副教授)

Objection to amending the Legislative Council’s Rules of Procedure to weaken its deliberation and oversight powers (Public Petition)

In recent days, pro-establishment legislators proposed to amend the Legislative Council’s Rules of Procedure, at a time when the democrats had lost their veto powers as a result of the oath-taking controversy. We object to the amendment proposals because once such amendments are passed, they stand to gravely weaken the Council’s power to monitor the government, already minuscule as they are, and allow the all-powerful executive authorities to escape legislative oversight even further, rendering a much increased chance of Hong Kong heading towards an authoritarian system.

Reasons for the above understanding are as follows:

First, the pro-establishment camp claims that the purpose of amending the Rules of Procedure is to deter filibuster. But detailed examination of their proposals shows that some of the suggested amendments have actually nothing to do with filibustering, for example, the proposal to raise the quorum from 20 to 35 for investigations of public officers. The democratic camp has in the past presented three petitions for investigating public officials, including the entertainment expenses and overseas visits of Mr. Tong Hin-ming Timothy when he was Commissioner of the ICAC, delays and cost overruns of the express train project, and the payment deal between Mr. Leung Chun-ying and UGL. All the petition proceedings took about five minutes and neither necessitated nor constituted filibustering. Raising the requested number of petitioners to 35 before petitions can be presented is tantamount to dictating a pro-establishment camp endorsement before petitions can be referred to select committees. This would mean the similar, investigative committees would have little chance of being set up in future. The Legislative Council will have even greater difficulty in initiating investigations into suspected dereliction of duty by officials while costs to officials and public officers for abuse will be even less.

In addition, the pro-establishment camp proposes lowering the quorum for the Committee stage of the whole Council on a bill from 35 to 20. Attending Legislative Council meetings to deliberate on bills is legislators’ duty. The pro-establishment camp’s suggestion to lower the quorum rather than encouraging legislators to fulfil their duty of attending Council meetings is putting the cart before the horse and lowering its own standards. The suggestion is also in contravention of Article 75 of the Basic Law which stipulates that “[t]he quorum for the meeting of the Legislative Council of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region shall be not less than one half of all its members.”

Furthermore, the pro-establishment camp proposes a change on motions to adjourn debate or of proceedings of a committee of the whole Council. When the Chairman is of the opinion that the moving of the adjournment of proceedings is an abuse of procedure, he or she may decide not to propose the question or to put the question forthwith without debate. The passage of this revision will make legislature’s members unable to compel the withdrawal of unreasonable or draconian bills. The Chairman will be able to order a vote on a draconian bill and substantially weaken legislators’ capacity to reduce administrative abuse and mistakes.

When legislators lose the power to deliberate and the Legislative Council cannot rely on legislative procedures and powers to exert pressure and scrutinize the government, costs to the government for poor governance and pushing poor legislation will be much diminished and the government will not need to respond to the legislature or to public opinion.

If the pro-establishment camp succeeds in amending the Rules of Procedure, when the government decides to push through draconian legislation that breaches public interests and human rights, including legislation of Article 23, the Legislative Council will have greater difficulty in deterring such moves through legislative scrutiny and mobilizing for public support. The government will be more likely to become the representative of a dictatorial regime not subject to any checks to its powers, and all Hong Kong people will suffer.

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Initiating Body and Scholars (Alphabetical order)
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* Scholars’ Alliance for Academic Freedom
* CHAN Ka Lok, Kenneth (HKBU, Associate Professor)
* CHAN, Stephen C.K. (Lingnan U, Professor)
* CHAN Sze Chi (HKBU, Senior Lecturer)
* CHAN Yin Ha (CUHK, Senior Lecturer)
* CHEUNG, Chor Yung (CityU, Senior Teaching Fellow)
* CHOI Po King (CUHK, Adjunct Associate Professor)
* CHONG Yiu Kwong (EdUHK, Senior Lecturer)
* CHOW Po Chung (CUHK, Associate Professor)
* FU King-wa (HKU, Associate Professor)
* FUNG Wai-wah (Senior Lecturer, CityU of Hong Kong)
* HO Chi Kwan (Caritas Higher Institute of Education, Research Professor)
* HUI Hon Wing (EdUHK, Lecturer)
* KWOK, Rowena (HKU, former Assistant Professor)
* KUNG Lap Yan (CUHK, Associate Professor)
* LEUNG Chi Yuen (PolyU, Teaching Fellow)
*LEUNG Yan Wing (EdUHK) , Adjunt Associate Professor
* LEUNG, Yuk-ming Lisa (Lingnan U, Associate Professor)
* LI Chin Wa (EdUHK, Senior Lecturer)
* LUK Kit Ling (HKCC, PolyU, Lecturer)
* MA, Ngok (CUHK, Associate Professor)
* NGO Hang Yue (CUHK, Professor)
* POON Eric (CUHK, Associate Professor of Practice)
* SING Ming, Dixon (HKUST, Associate Professor)
* SO, Alvin (HKUST, Chair Professor)
* TO Yiu Ming (HKBU, Assistant Professor, retired)
* WONG Wai Kwok, Benson (HKBU, Assistant Professor)
* WONG Chi Wai, Paul (CC City U, Lecturer)
* YAU, Joe C.K. (HKBU, Lecturer)

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