DAB bid to wrest panel post from Emily Lau

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 04 October, 2007, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 04 October, 2007, 12:00am

DAB chairman Tam Yiu-chung will challenge Emily Lau Wai-hing, of The Frontier, for chairmanship of the Legislative Council's Finance Committee after his party's failed attempt for the position last year.

If the Democratic Alliance for the Betterment and Progress of Hong Kong can secure the influential post, which has the power to set the agenda and oversee discussions, the government can expect a smooth passage of its funding applications in the next 12 months.

Speaking yesterday, Mr Tam said his party had decided to get him to run in the race to be held tomorrow. He had already started lobbying for support from the Liberal Party and The Alliance, whose backing is essential to outvote the pan-democrats.

'If I am elected, I will do everything strictly according to the house rules of the legislature,' Mr Tam said.

In the annual contest by lawmakers for the committee chairmanship last year, Chan Kam-lam of the DAB lost in a surprise defeat to Ms Lau in a drawing of lots after a tied vote. Although it was a secret ballot, The Alliance was accused of voting for Ms Lau despite promising openly to support Mr Chan, who had thought he could command enough votes. The group denied this.

The position, long held by Beijing loyalists, was first taken by Ms Lau three years ago.

Her insistence on allowing lawmakers adequate time to air their views at meetings angered Beijing loyalists and officials, who said it led to delays in the approval of government funding applications.

'People are very angry but dare not say it,' Mr Chan said. 'Now, I hope there will be a change of this deliberate dragging of feet in meetings. Emily Lau is definitely not an ideal chairwoman, because she used her position to hinder the government.'

But Ms Lau said she was only doing her job to ensure lawmakers could do their duty of monitoring government spending as required by the Basic Law. 'Throughout the past three years, I have never dragged out the meeting. I only tried to ensure everybody had enough time to air their views,' she said.