Thumbs down for Tsang's policy address

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 31 October, 2009, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 31 October, 2009, 12:00am

Chief Executive Donald Tsang Yam-kuen's fifth policy address, which recently stirred up controversy with its backing of a proposed light-bulb cash-coupon scheme, yesterday failed to win approval from the legislature.

It is the third time that Tsang's policy address has failed to pass the Legislative Council's traditional motion of thanks since he took up the city's top post in 2005.

A non-binding motion was backed by 34 lawmakers while 22 voted against it. Two members abstained.

But it was defeated because it failed to secure majority support in separate votes by members from the functional constituencies and geographical constituencies.

This year's address, which sparked allegations that Tsang had favoured an in-law's light-bulb business with his plan to encourage the use of energy-saving bulbs, attracted record levels of public dissatisfaction, according to university polls.

Government figures released yesterday show that since 2003, six of the 20 light-bulb procurement contracts by government departments involved Philips' products, for which Tsang's relative by marriage is an agent. The Philips-related procurements involve HK$1.73 million, about 16 per cent of the total value of the 20 contracts.

Wrapping up a 30-hour Legco debate on the approval motion, Chief Secretary Henry Tang Ying-yen called for more trust.

'I think we should all consider how to better achieve mutual trust,' he said, adding that people should have trust in a clean public service.

The pan-democratic camp's four amendments to the motion were all defeated.

The League of Social Democrats, a camp member, abstained.

In amendments, Democratic Party deputy chairwoman Emily Lau Wai-hing and the Civic Party's Alan Leong Kah-kit expressed regret and 'deep regret' at Tsang's failure to provide a road map for universal suffrage for the election of the chief executive and legislature.

Tang insisted that the policy address' ultimate aim was to create jobs.

The government had doled out four rounds of sweeteners worth HK$87.6 billion since last year, he said, along with measures to secure jobs, which had benefited many.

Unionist lawmaker Lee Cheuk-yan urged the government to reflect on why people were dissatisfied.

'In the eyes of the public, the government fails to fight for democracy, economically benefits only the big enterprises and completely ignores the grave disparity between the rich and poor,' he said.