Legco's poor panel turn-out revealed

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 23 June, 1996, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 23 June, 1996, 12:00am

AT least 50 meetings of legislators have been re-scheduled or cancelled because of poor attendance.

Legislative Council secretariat records show that four legislators skipped all meetings of panels they joined, while several others attended only once.

Of about 190 panel sessions scheduled between October and June 19, a fifth went ahead with fewer than half their members present.

Only three meetings drew full attendance - two were of the information policy panel and one of the health services panel.

Figures for Legislative Council meetings show that 11 legislators maintained perfect attendance over the 36 sittings. In 1993-94, 21 had attended all meetings.

The four who failed to attend panel meetings were: Lau Wong-fat, chairman of the Heung Yee Kuk, who skipped all meetings on home affairs; Philip Wong Yu-hong, a Preparatory Committee member, who missed all meetings on public services, constitutional affairs and welfare; Lo Suk-shing, who missed all meetings on legal services; Christine Loh Kung-wai, who missed trade and industry meetings.

Mr Lo said his absence did not undermine his understanding of Legco affairs. He said he missed meetings because he was abroad or busy with other appointments.

Allen Lee Peng-fei, who attended only one home affairs panel session, said some of the meetings were boring.

'It is often that panels are just talk and talk and talk. There is no decision to be made in there. I think the weekly sitting is more important, which I will definitely go for,' he said.

Ms Lee Yin-lau, spokesman for the Catholic Monitoring Group on legislators, criticised the absentees for wasting money.

'Legislators are not only expected to attend weekly sittings. There are a lot of Legco affairs to be dealt with in panels.

'Some legislators do not have their hearts in Legco any more. They consider getting to be a member of the provisional legislature more important.' Democratic Party legislator Cheung Man-kwong said those who did not attend any meetings should explain to their voters why they chose to join panels.