Thumbs down on final policy speech for Tsang
Five to two. That is the final score for Donald Tsang Yam-kuen's policy addresses after his last one failed to receive a vote of thanks in the Legislative Council yesterday.
Since Tsang assumed office in 2005, just two of his seven addresses - in 2007 and 2008 - won the vote.
In fact, yesterday's tally was 35-13 in favour, but the address failed to pass muster because of the split voting system that requires a majority in both the functional and geographical constituencies.
In the functional vote, dominated by government allies, the tally was 25 for and two against. In the other, it failed by just one vote, 10-11.
Chief Secretary Stephen Lam Sui-lung declined to comment.
During the debate on the motion, which took more than 25 hours over three days, the policy address received mixed comments. Most legislators welcomed the move to resume building Home Ownership Scheme flats, but they criticised Tsang for not tackling the widening wealth gap and ageing-population problem.
Independent lawmaker Andrew Cheng Kar-foo said Tsang acted like 'a CEO of a colony' who likes to give generous handouts in the final year of his term but leave burdens for his successor. He referred to policies such as reintroducing the HOS, for which there has been strong demand in the past few years, and proposing a public transport subsidy to give people over 65 a flat fare of HK$2.
Lam said in the meeting that a responsible government should outline policy principles that can guide future administrations.
Pan-democrats tabled five amendments, expressing regret that the administration had failed to outline a policy blueprint to narrow the wealth gap or provide 15 years of free education, small-class teaching in secondary schools and universal retirement protection.
Tam Yiu-chung, chairman of the Democratic Alliance for the Betterment and Progress of Hong Kong, said his members would not support the amendments. Tam said earlier that Tsang had proved he could lead Hong Kong through the financial crisis in 2008 and had improved people's livelihoods, despite occasions when his administration failed to consider public opinion, leading to policy U-turns.
The debate yesterday soon degenerated into mudslinging between political parties. 'Long Hair' Leung Kwok-hung, of the League of Social Democrats, said the DAB had merely followed government policies for seven years.
Tam hit back in an unusually strong tone, saying: 'Don't violate order in the Legislative Council. Don't set a bad example to the children.'
DAB vice-chairman Ip Kwok-him said the government should review the salary and means of assessing the performance of its undersecretaries and political assistants.
Raymond Tam Chi-yuen, secretary for constitutional and mainland affairs, said the government would make recommendations for ways to improve the political-appointee system at an appropriate time.