Revamp scrutiny faces more delay

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 11 July, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 11 July, 2012, 12:00am


People Power lawmakers have vowed to drag out discussion of the Companies Bill until tomorrow or Friday to minimise the chance that the Legislative Council will be able to scrutinise plans for a government restructuring before its term ends next week.

They made the vow a day after the government agreed to push Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying's planned shake-up of the administration to the bottom of its legislative agenda, with seven more government bills and 16 motions to be debated first. Lawmakers from across the political spectrum had asked for the chance to discuss bills on livelihood issues before the contentious revamp.

The shake-up would see the creation of new bureaus for culture and technology, and posts of deputy financial secretary and deputy chief secretary, but many lawmakers say no restructuring is needed.

People Power estimates that up to 161/4 hours will be left to debate the restructuring after all the bills and motions are discussed, if Legco debate proceeds at its normal pace.

'There could be more than a dozen hours left after finishing the seven bills and 16 resolutions ... leaving a chance for the restructuring plan to be passed,' People Power lawmaker Albert Chan Wai-yip said.

'We will keep deliberating the Companies Bill and the scrutiny probably can't be completed until Thursday or Friday morning.'

But Chan said there were no plans to seek quorum counts, a tactic used in an earlier, failed attempt to block a change to the by-election rules. When a quorum count is called, the session is abandoned if fewer than 30 lawmakers are in the chamber. Chan said the party would only return to the tactic if few lawmakers spoke in debates about livelihood issues in an attempt to provide more time for a discussion of the revamp.

Democratic Party chairman Albert Ho Chun-yan said his party would speak on bills when it needed to, particularly on controversial issues like whether the Companies Bill should hold auditors criminally liable if they failed to declare accounting problems at a company.

The restructuring must also win funding from Legco's finance committee.

Any bill not passed by midnight on Tuesday will have to be tabled again when Legco resumes in October, after September's elections.

Ho said yesterday the High Court would hear his application for a judicial review and an election petition tomorrow. Ho argues that Leung's failure to reveal the presence of illegal structures at his home makes him ineligible to be chief executive.