Donald Tsang

I failed to boost Legco's public image, Tsang says

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 10 July, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 10 July, 2012, 12:00am


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Legislative Council president Tsang Yok-sing admitted yesterday that he failed to improve the public image of the legislature during his term.

But he was quick to defend his colleagues, saying that inadequate public understanding of Legco's watchdog role only magnified the negative impressions of legislators.

According to a University of Hong Kong survey, Hongkongers' dissatisfaction rate towards Legco was 49 per cent at the end of last year, compared to only 29 per cent less than four years ago.

The hurling of bananas and eggs, together with abusive language, also left a deep impression on the public.

Tsang's four-year tenure as Legco president expires next Tuesday, when Legco's term ends.

Speaking at a business lunch yesterday, Tsang conceded that 'my wish in 2008 was to improve the image of the legislature among the people. Now, apparently, this has completely failed'.

Tsang felt that the main reason was because the public did not fully understand Legco, which only magnified their negative ideas about lawmakers.

He cited the 2008 case when lawmaker Wong Yuk-man threw a banana during a question and answer session with Chief Executive Donald Tsang Yam-kuen as an example. Although it only happened once, replays in the media led people to think similar incidents happened frequently, Tsang Yok-sing (pictured) said.

'I received more than 10 letters from the chief secretary ... complaining about lawmakers' behaviour, and asking for a change to our rules of procedures to stop [such misconduct] from happening again, but that is impossible,' Tsang said, because he believed the power to punish lawmakers was vested with the electorate, not the Legco president.

However, Tsang revealed that he once suggested banning lawmakers from meetings they planned to disrupt, but legislators rejected this idea.

Aside from flying objects and heated debates in the Legco chamber, Tsang insisted that 'overall, lawmakers are lovable ... and most of them are hardworking'.

He said more than 50 committees and panels helped pass nearly 100 bills during the past four years, including the controversial minimum wage and competition laws.

Tsang also believed that Legco's watchdog role was bound to create negative impressions, but changing this was part of the government's problem - how to get the support of the Legco and the public on controversial policies.

'This is a question to be explored,' he said.