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Friday, July 8, 2016, 01:16

Medical registration bill still deadlocked

By Joseph Li

HONG KONG — The second reading of the Medical Registration (Amendment) Bill 2016 remains deadlocked as medical constituency lawmaker Leung Ka-lau continued to abuse the quorum bell to obstruct the passage of the bill in the Legislative Council on Thursday.

Throughout the meeting which started at 9 am and continued until 8 pm, the quorum bell was rung 26 times wasting 4 hours 24 minutes of the meeting’s time. Leung asked for the bell to be run on most occasions. Radical lawmaker Leung Kwok-hung, also known as “Long Hair”, joined him to request the bell be rung two to three times.

Patient groups continued to condemn Leung Ka-lau for ignoring patients’ rights and his relentless attempts to abort the meeting. There were also doctors pledging support for Leung outside the Legislative Council Complex because they believe he was protecting their interests.

The meeting will continue today (Friday) from 9 am to 1 pm. If the bill is not passed this week, it will be postponed to next week, together with the Private Columbaria Bill and Fire Services (Amendment) Bill 2015, both of which are important to people’s livelihoods, following it. Passage of these bills cannot be more pressing because the current legislative term expires at midnight on Friday, July 15.

Despite this, pro-establishment lawmakers are not worried. They believe that if the opposition camp backed Leung Ka-lau to vote down the bill, they risk alienating themselves from ordinary residents. With the election drawing near, the voters are likely to punish them.

It is understood the pro-establishment camp wants to pass the medical registration bill next Wednesday. This leaves enough time to pass the other two bills before the summer recess.

Shortly after the LegCo meeting resumed on Thursday morning to debate on Leung Ka-lau’s motion to adjourn the medical registration bill, he made a nuisance of himself again by asking to count the quorum. He called for the quorum bell every time a lawmaker had just started speaking for a minute or so to interrupt their speeches. His motion to adjourn the medical registration bill was finally vetoed about 2:30 pm.

Even though the “pan-democrats” said they would not filibuster, most disappeared when the bell was rung. They simply relied on the pro-establishment lawmakers to form the quorum.

When opposition members spoke, they hardly criticized Leung Ka-lau’s behavior, but used the opportunity to attack the government.

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