5 December 2017

Survey Findings on Views about Filibuster in the Legislature Released by the Hong Kong Institute of Asia-Pacific Studies at CUHK

Legislators sometimes would use the tactic of filibuster on some controversial issues in order to hinder the passing of related bills or motions in the legislature. However, results from a telephone survey recently showed that half of the respondents do not support filibuster on principle. Although 50% of the respondents agreed with changing the rules of procedure in the legislature, 30% disagreed with that.

The telephone survey was conducted from 21 to 25 November 2017 by the Hong Kong Institute of Asia-Pacific Studies at The Chinese University of Hong Kong (CUHK) to gauge public views about filibustering in the Legislative Council. 722 respondents aged 18 or above were successfully interviewed, with a response rate of 37.1%. The sampling error is + or –3.65 percentage points at a confidence level of 95%.

Major findings are summarized as follows:

The survey found that 50.8% of the respondents did not support filibuster on principle. Only 14.0% supported such kind of tactic. 30.3% said “in-between”. 49.4% of the respondents agreed with changing the rules of procedure in the legislature in order to reduce the chance for filibuster.  However, there were also 30.1% of them disagreed and 16.6% said “in-between”. When the respondents were asked if they were worried about an impingement on lawmakers’ right to speak should filibuster was restricted by changing the house rules, opinions turned out to be somewhat divided. 35.2% felt so but 44.0% said the opposite. 17.7% reported “in-between”.

Besides, the respondents were also asked if they agreed with the filibuster on the co-location arrangement at the West Kowloon Station by some legislators. While 58.6% of the respondents disagreed, 22.2% agreed and 14.1% said “in-between”.

Concerning the perception of filibuster, there were both pro and con arguments.  The survey results showed that there was relatively larger number of respondents who agreed with the negative aspects of filibuster. 53.2% of them agreed that filibuster disrupted the functioning of the government administration and slowed down the development of Hong Kong society. 19.8% thought the opposite and 23.1% said “in-between”. While 37.4% of the respondents agreed that filibustering is a farce or political show played by lawmakers for increasing their public exposure, 31.9% disagreed. 26.3% reported “in-between”. In contrast, relatively lesser number of respondents supported the arguments justifying filibuster. 43.9% of the respondents disagreed that filibuster could raise the public awareness over certain social issues so as to force the government to face the people’s demand. 31.7% agreed and 22.0% said “in-between”. About 40.9% disagreed with the statement that “Filibuster is a result of the lack of universal suffrage in the Legislative Council election” and 30.7% agreed with it.  21.3% reported “in-between”.

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