Pan-democrats risking support, analysts say
Gary Cheung and Martin Wong
Pan-democrats are risking a dip in support in the wake of yesterday's controversial vote on government expenditure, political analysts said.
City University political scientist Dr Ray Yep Kin-man said both the government and the pan-democratic camp would lose out over the non-passage of the HK$60 billion bill.
He said the government had displayed political misjudgment by underestimating opposition to the funding application.
'Some people may accept the scenario that the pan-democrats can make amendments to the budget and even veto the financial blueprint if they think it's not good enough. But they may not agree with the pan-democrats abstaining - which effectively results in a veto of the application for provisional funding - because the move might affect their daily lives,' Yep said.
Joseph Wong Wing-ping, former secretary for the civil service, agreed that pan-democrats might lose a degree of public support. 'But the government should take a bigger share of the blame for not doing enough to secure enough votes for the funding application,' he said.
A government official, who declined to be named, said the application for provisional funding had nothing to do with recent debate over the budget.
'This funding is for government services such as Comprehensive Social Security Assistance,' the official said. 'I don't think supporters of the pan-democratic lawmakers, who voted them into office, want them to paralyse public services.'
Another government official accused the pan-democrats of 'playing with fire'.
But Benson Wong Wai-Kwok, associate professor at Baptist University's department of government and international studies, said the pan-democrats had already offered the government room for manoeuvre by casting absentee votes.
'These lawmakers have already tried to show the government that they were not standing firmly against them and that they also want to negotiate. If they didn't, they could simply have voted against the funding,' he said. 'The government should really rethink their position. They cannot ignore the views of the pro-democracy camp.'
Bernard Wu Tak-lung, president of the Taxation Institute of Hong Kong, said he was puzzled by the pan-democrats' actions.
He believed the veto of the funding application was 'too aggressive'.
'While their action will not impact on the government, it could make many members of the public wonder if the government's operations will be affected.'