Row over proposal to alter three-tier set-up

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 22 October, 1997, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 22 October, 1997, 12:00am

Provisional urban councillors accused the Government yesterday of trying to centralise power by proposing a review of the three-tier political structure.

The allegations were made during a debate on whether a working committee should be set up to review the council's structure and powers.

Daniel Wong Kwok-tung of the Association for Democracy and People's Livelihood said the proposal was a step backwards for democracy.

'It actually wants to replace the representative government and divert the power to the central administration,' Mr Wong said.

He expressed fears that the two councils might lose their say in decision-making areas such as arts and culture if they were to be merged into a district body.

Urban Services Department director Elaine Chung Lai-kwok said the administration did not have any preference as to whether the municipal councils should be restructured.

She said Secretary for Constitutional Affairs Michael Suen Ming-yeung had only pointed out two 'directions' in reviewing the administrative structure to test public opinion on the issue.

Szeto Wah of the Democratic Party said: 'Directions are compasses to destinations. What do you mean by having no stance?' Independent Ambrose Cheung Wing-sum's proposal that a working committee be set up was defeated by 20 votes to 15.