C.Y.'s revamp plan running out of time

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 21 June, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 21 June, 2012, 12:00am


The chances of chief executive-elect Leung Chun-ying's proposed government revamp plan being fast-tracked in the Legislative Council hung in the balance last night.

After six hours of debate yesterday afternoon, lawmakers had yet to approve a special request to allow the restructuring resolution - aimed at transferring statutory functions among officials - to be tabled before other outstanding bills.

If the request is denied, Leung could be dealt a serious blow in getting his revamp plan approved in Legco before he takes office on July 1.

In Legco, lawmakers must scrutinise government bills before settling resolutions, unless they agree to reschedule the agenda.

The administration had planned to table the restructuring resolution during yesterday's council meeting, but there were still 19 government bills or motions - expected to require dozens of hours of debate - before the resolution could be tabled.

Late on Tuesday night the government asked lawmakers to give priority to scrutinising the resolution, and forego a customary 12-day notice period. Legco president Tsang Yok-sing exercised his discretion to dispense with the notice period.

Pan-democratic lawmakers decried Tsang's decision, which they described as another attempt to undermine Legco's traditions following his unprecedented move last month to kill the debate on a controversial by-election law.

Chief Secretary Stephen Lam Sui-lung said yesterday the resolution was 'time critical', to allow the new government to have its preferred bureaucratic structure in place to implement policies.

Tsang also defended his decision to sidestep the notice period, as the government had given notice as early as last month that the resolution would be tabled yesterday. He also agreed on the urgency of settling the restructuring resolution.

But pan-democrats were unconvinced. Democratic Party chairman Albert Ho Chun-yan said the government was making a 'sneak attack' by making the special request just hours before the council meeting.

'Leung was high-handed in asking for his revamp plan to be scrutinised before other livelihood-related bills,' Ho said. 'It was also inappropriate for Tsang to exercise his discretion so readily.'

Legal sector lawmaker Margaret Ng Ngoi-yee, of the Civic Party, criticised the government for sacrificing the 'mutual trust' between the legislature and the executive branches by ignoring the long-standing procedures of Legco.

However, Tam Yiu-chung, chairman of the Democratic Alliance for the Betterment and Progress of Hong Kong, said the backlog in the legislature was the fault of previous filibustering by pan-democrats.

Even if the resolution was given priority to be scrutinised, it would face more than 150 amendments raised by pan-democrats, which are expected to require 30 hours of debate and voting.

The revamp plan also faces a race against time in terms of getting approval from the Finance Committee, where it could face nearly 1,000 amendments by pan-democrats in an attempt to delay its passage.

The debate continues today.