'United' coalition stands by demands

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 17 June, 1998, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 17 June, 1998, 12:00am

Political parties yesterday reaffirmed their support for tax and rates cuts, despite a question mark over their unity.

The coalition pledged to pursue Donald Tsang Yam-kuen item-by-item over its six-point plan when they meet next week.

The MTR, LRT and KCR corporations will be asked to cut fares when chiefs Jack So Chak-kwong and Yeung Kai-yin meet the coalition next week.

Coalition convenor Allen Lee Peng-fei denied the united front had crumbled.

'Our message is clear. We affirm that consensus stands. We will be united in pushing this consensus.

'We will get on with the practicalities, of each and every point and ask him [Mr Tsang] when he is going to implement these,' he said.

He would not be drawn on what action would be taken if the demands were rejected.

Speculation about the strength of coalition unity mounted when the DAB and the Progressive Alliance said they would not insist on the package if officials could prove it was impractical.

The parties are understood to fear the Government is trying to test how individual parties would react by suggesting measures were likely to be rejected.

'That's why we would not say what action we will take. Otherwise, it will reveal our baseline and leave room for officials to manipulate us,' a source said.

The coalition considered arranging its six demands in order of priority but decided that was unnecessary.

'We feel that the ball is now in the Government's court and we should stand firm,' said the source.

Chan Kam-lam of the Democratic Alliance for the Betterment of Hong Kong yesterday stressed the party supported the measures.

'But we just don't think we should threaten to block all government bills and funding,' he said.

Progressive Alliance chairman Ambrose Lau Hon-chuen said he supported the move although he did not attend the talks. 'But we should be rational and listen to the Government's views.' Emily Lau Wai-hing of The Frontier suggested the Government wanted to split the coalition.

'We will urge this Government, which has been elected by no one, to listen closely to the representatives of the people,' she said.

Democratic Party vice-chairman Dr Yeung Sum said: 'We are pretty sure that public opinion is fully on our side.'