High-profile leader defies 'corridor gossips'

PUBLISHED : Friday, 29 August, 1997, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 29 August, 1997, 12:00am

Rita Fan Hsu Lai-tai has no qualms about the way she has presided over the interim body, which has drawn attacks from all sides.

She also predicted provisional legislature members would face more criticism as the first legislative elections approached.

The 52-year-old has endured a bumpy ride since being chosen as president last January.

Apart from critics outside the interim body, there have been attacks from members against her 'high-handed' style, as well as her high-profile stance on some issues which was seen as undermining the impartiality of the presidency.

The internal criticism was most evident in the early stage of the body's formation, when Mrs Fan took an active role in proposing reform of the legislature's structure.

Recently, she came under fire from the Association for Democracy and People's Livelihood (ADPL) for her comments on the granting of legal aid to illegal child immigrants with right of abode in the SAR.

Reflecting on her work of the past eight months, Mrs Fan, the champion of what she called 'the new parliamentary culture', brushed away the implications of the criticism.

'The fact is that this did not take place within the legislature chamber. These are just gossips - corridor gossips,' she said.

Mrs Fan said the new culture was reflected in the absence of personal attacks by members in the debates.

She insisted it was necessary for her to be high profile in the beginning, but said she was taking things more slowly now.

With the election next May, she foresees more criticism of members who are running in the polls.

'There are people who are against the provisional legislature. If we do something they are in agreement with, we don't hear from them.

'But if there is something they don't agree with, then they have no hesitation in making it known.' Mrs Fan claimed the provisional legislature was not exceeding its powers by conducting motion debates, questioning the Government and taking time to vet certain laws - tasks the Preparatory Committee did not have in mind for it.

She pointed out the committee had not objected to the legislature's rules of procedures, meaning it did not find the approach questionable.

'If you ask me what difference there is between the provisional legislature and a normal legislature, I would say it is the pressure we are under,' she said.

'We don't drag our heels on legislative affairs, but this doesn't mean rushing everything through.' Unlike Liberal Party chairman Allen Lee Peng-fei, Mrs Fan did not find communication problems between the body and the Executive Council.