Politics

C.Y. in plea to push through restructuring

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 13 May, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 13 May, 2012, 12:00am

Leung Chun-ying made a fresh call to lawmakers yesterday to approve his restructuring of the government before he takes office on July 1, saying it was key to solving housing problems.

It was the second such call in two days from the chief executive-elect (pictured), and came hours after pan-democrats forced a second adjournment of debate in the Legislative Council on amendments to electoral law.

The bill bans legislators who resign mid-term from standing in by-elections for six months.

Delaying passage of the bill could hinder passage of other legislation, including Leung's, before Legco's term ends in July, meaning the legislative process for those measures would have to start from scratch after September's Legco election.

'For residents of subdivided flats, making them wait for one more week could be already too long,' Leung said, reiterating that his plans - which include forming a government bureau to oversee housing, lands and urban planning policies - were crucial to speeding up the supply of public and private residential flats and making more land available for development.

The restructuring would also create a culture bureau, and resistance to that idea emerged yesterday at a community forum in San Po Kong, where about 100 people crammed into a small theatre rehearsal room to discuss the proposal.

Commentators questioned how the bureau would operate, amid fears that it could become a political tool or a vehicle for propaganda.

Cultural studies professor Stephen Chan Ching-kiu from Lingnan University would not welcome the bureau without knowing more about what purpose it would serve.

'Hong Kong is not a weak city, but why is our cultural ecology so poor?' he said. 'I'm not excited about the bureau because there is no process, no facts to tell me what is in the minds of this new administration [or] its agenda.'

His lack of enthusiasm comes despite the fact he and others have fought for more than 20 years for the establishment of a bureau of culture.

Chow Chun-fai, an artist and chairman of the new Factory Artists Concern Group, echoed Chan's unease. 'We've been asking for this for 20 years, but when it comes, it's not exactly what we want,' Chow said.

Others stressed the need to staff the bureau with experts in the field and for better co-ordination between government and practitioners, as well as complaining that the three-month consultation period on the proposal was too short.

Some said a culture bureau had to address the city's unique characteristics rather than import models from other countries. They called for a shadow culture bureau to monitor the official one.

Arts critic Ada Wong Ying-kay has been tipped as a possible head of the culture bureau, but another name now being mentioned is that of undersecretary for Home Affairs Florence Hui Hiu-fai. Hui declined to comment yesterday.