Poor performance

PUBLISHED : Monday, 24 June, 1996, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 24 June, 1996, 12:00am

It is not just the public who think the Legislative Council is boring. Some legislators find its proceedings so tedious they have given up attending most of the council's panel meetings.

Only three out of 190 sessions have drawn a full attendance since last October. At least 50 had to be cancelled or re-scheduled, due to lack of interest. Four legislators never even bothered to turn up for any meetings of certain panels.

Some tried to use pressure of business as an excuse for their poor attendance. But Liberal Party leader Allen Lee Peng-fei was honest enough to admit that the real reason was many meetings were just too tedious.

While it is amusing to hear legislators admit they bore each other to tears, there is a serious side to this. Deadly dull though they often are, panel meetings play a useful role in forcing accountability upon a secretive government. Bureaucrats find it fairly easy to waffle their way out of trouble, during the brief time allowed for questions during Wednesday's full Legco sitting.

But they find it more difficult to remain so evasive during the more lengthy grillings that are possible at panel meetings. Official cover-ups have been exposed and policies changed as a result of such sessions. Perhaps Mr Lee and some of his colleagues find this task too boring to bother with.

Certainly much could be done to streamline the process, by limiting the number of such meetings and not allowing one legislator to unnecessarily prolong them to pursue a personal crusade. But if legislators are not prepared to suffer some tedium, in the interests of serving the public, then they should never have stood for election.

People have a right to expect their legislators to show dedication to their duties. Those who skip panel meetings, so frequently they have to be cancelled, prove themselves unworthy of their position.