Councils bill delayed for extra scrutiny

PUBLISHED : Friday, 29 January, 1999, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 29 January, 1999, 12:00am

Tabling of the District Councils Bill to Legco has been postponed for a month, following claims it was being rushed through.

The delay was due to the slow progress of the Legislative Council bills committee's discussions, said Deputy Secretary for Constitutional Affairs Robin Ip Man-fai.

'Although we expected the bill to be tabled on February 10, it is unrealistic to think we can meet our target now, regarding the progress we have made so far,' he said at the committee meeting yesterday.

Mr Ip said the bill would be tabled on March 10. As a result, consultation on the demarcation of geographical constituencies would be cut to two weeks from a month, so there's time to hold the elections as scheduled in late November.

However, Cyd Ho Sau-lan, of The Frontier, blamed the Government, saying it was trying to rush the bill through at the expense of other legislative work. 'The Government has itself to blame. We have already tried our best to have as many meetings as we can. But the Government seems not to consider the huge damage it has done to the progress of other [Legco] panels,' she said.

Howard Young, of the Liberal Party, urged the bills committee to finish the discussion as soon as possible.

Another Deputy Secretary for Constitutional Affairs, Maureen Chan Leung Mong-lin, said the public consultation for the Legco election in May was also 14 days.

The Government ruled out suggestions to choose the district councils' chairmen by one man, one vote and to bar defeated candidates and people with a political background from being appointed. Mr Ip said one man, one vote would deprive the appointed and ex-officio members of their right to be chosen.

'As appointed members have yet to be named and ex-officio members yet to be chosen when the elections start, that means only geographical constituency candidates will also be able to run in the chairmen's elections.' Non-affiliated Andrew Wong Wang-fat, who plans to move the amendments, disagreed.

'The game rules are here. If they want to win, they have to run unless the Government wants them to win and creates a system for them to win,' he said.