Ronny Tong in plea to pass monopoly bill
After years of calling for a competition law, lawmaker Ronny Tong Ka-wah has appealed to fellow pan-democrats not to miss a crucial legislative session on Saturday.
The Civic Party legislator fears the bill could still be thwarted by pro-business lawmakers, since the Legislative Council remains split on the heavily amended bill.
'In a prudent estimate there are only 34 votes supporting the bill at the moment, and usually few people attend Saturday Legco meetings,' said Tong. He was counting the 23 pan-democratic votes plus some supporters from the Democratic Alliance for the Betterment and Progress of Hong Kong and Federation of Trade Unions.
The bill requires a simple majority to pass.
The bill, which has had 140 amendments, is expected to be vetted at a full council meeting on Friday, followed by a vote on Saturday.
'It should be the government's job to secure votes for the bill, but we do not want it to be caught off guard by business opposition,' Tong said.
'If it is defeated we would have to start from scratch in the new term. So I will urge pan-democrat lawmakers to attend the meeting.'
Secretary for Commerce and Economic development Greg So Kam-leung said he has been busy lobbying lawmakers to attend the vote.
Tong's warning came after the chairman of the General Chamber of Commerce, Chow Chung-kong, said the chamber's board would decide its final stance tomorrow.
The bill aims to curb monopolistic practices and abuse of substantial market power, but most of the city's 580 statutory bodies will be exempted from its terms. The government has gone through three rounds of concessions - including lifting exemption thresholds for small- and medium-sized enterprises - to pacify business worries.
But New People's Party lawmaker Regina Ip Lau Suk-yee said the bill still contained traps for small businesses. She wants all statutory bodies to be included under the law - with some exceptions to be made later.