Pan-democrats threaten funding for think tank
Gary Cheung and Tanna Chong
Pan-democratic lawmakers are threatening to cut funding to the Central Policy Unit for refusing to release the results of a survey it commissioned which asked if Financial Secretary John Tsang Chun-wah should step down over his budget U-turn.
Democratic Party legislator Lee Wing-tat said yesterday the result should be made public, adding that the government's top think tank was not an intelligence agency.
'I am particularly unhappy with the government's refusal to release the findings whenever they are unfavourable to the administration. The government is obviously trying to manipulate public opinion,' Lee said during a special meeting of the Legislative Council's Finance Committee.
He said he would propose slashing the HK$85 million funding for the Central Policy Unit in the 2011-12 financial year.
The telephone survey, conducted by Chinese University's Centre for Communication Research two weeks ago, asked people if they agreed with the financial secretary's proposal to grant a HK$6,000 cash handout to the six million adult permanent residents.
They were then asked if Tsang should resign. Other questions included the level of people's trust in the government and if they thought there was a governance crisis.
The Civic Party said it would support a move to cut the HK$85 million earmarked for the CPU when the budget was put to the vote next month.
Wong Yuk-man, a lawmaker from People Power, the new group that broke away from the radical League of Social Democrats, said the CPU should be disbanded for its poor performance.
But Ip Kwok-him, of the Democratic Alliance for the Betterment and Progress of Hong Kong, said: 'It's purely a political tactic adopted by the pan-democrats to discredit the budget and the administration.'
Robin Ip Man-fai, deputy head of the CPU, reiterated that polls commissioned by the think tank were for internal reference and would not be disclosed.
Meanwhile, People Power says it will attempt to cut HK$110 million funding for the Constitutional and Mainland Affairs Bureau, as well as planned spending to recruit more political assistants.
People Power's Albert Chan Wai-yip said the move was to show their discontent with the 'incapability of the bureau and the political appointment system'.
'We think the bureau is redundant and not doing its job,' Chan said. 'The political appointment system is a failure and there are no reasons to expand it.'
The group will try to block HK$1.9 million earmarked for the bureau, the Transport and Housing Bureau and the Commerce and Economic Development Bureau to hire political assistants.
The funding, in HK dollars, allocated for the Central Policy Unit in the 2011-12 financial year: $85m