Don't delay vital policies, Urges Leung
The chief executive-elect yesterday urged lawmakers girding for a mammoth filibuster that starts today to do their job and not delay the proposed shake-up for his incoming administration.
Leung Chun-ying, who takes office on July 1, said any delay would mean deferring policies that 'many people are waiting for', such as those on housing issues.
Speaking on the eve of a Legislative Council meeting at which radical lawmakers are to move more than 1,300 amendments to an electoral bill, he said Hong Kong had been lagging behind its neighbours on many matters.
'For a long time, we have seen our social and economic development become slower and slower,' Leung said. 'I hope the services we need to provide to our citizens, including public housing and economic development, will not be deferred because of [the filibuster].'
People Power legislator Albert Chan Wai-yip, the driving force behind the filibuster, said legislators could take up to 500 hours to vote on all the amendments and this could delay the controversial copyright bill now awaiting its second and third readings.
'[The administration] has to postpone the copyright bill, otherwise it will affect the funding proposal for the new government structure from getting through,' Chan told a radio interviewer.
The electoral bill, which aims to prevent lawmakers who resign in mid-term from standing in by-elections for six months, is scheduled for its second and third readings today.
Leung said he would do his best to make sure his restructuring plan got through as soon as possible. He said the changes, including the creation of a housing, planning and lands bureau, and an industry and commerce bureau alongside a technology and communications bureau, would help boost the city's development, and meet public expectations.
Democratic lawmaker Lee Wing-tat disagreed that a delay would be serious.
'It takes five to six years, or about 70 months to build a housing estate,' he said. 'A two-month public consultation period [on the restructuring] will not delay the process too much.'
Pro-government party leader and legislator Tam Yiu-chung, agreed with Leung that the shake-up plan should be pushed through but had a different view on the copyright bill.
Tam, chairman of the Democratic Alliance for the Betterment and Progress of Hong Kong, said the DAB would meet the administration today to suggest shelving the bill's second and third readings because of public doubts about it. He conceded that meant it might have to be postponed to the new Legco session starting in October, because the current session ends in July.
Chan has also filed more than 1,300 amendments to the copyright amendment ordinance that internet users have dubbed the 'Article 23 of the cyber world', a reference to the shelved national security law.
The measure was due for a vote on May 9 but Chan's amendments have prompted the Legco House Committee to ask the government for a postponement. The Commerce and Economic Development Bureau said yesterday it had received the request and was considering it.
Civic Party lawmaker Tanya Chan, speaking on the same radio show as Albert Chan, said her party 'will not filibuster for the sake of it'.
Democratic Party vice-chairwoman Emily Lau Wai-hing said the party, which has eight seats in the legislature, would decide at this morning's caucus meeting whether to support the filibuster. She emphasised that the party would vote against the electoral bill itself.
Beijing loyalist Ip Kwok-him, convener of the DAB's caucus, slammed the filibuster as a 'waste of taxpayers' money'. He said there is 'nothing other lawmakers can do' and did not rule out the possibility of proposing a revision to the Rules of Procedure.
Legco president Tsang Yok-sing said, however, that there were clear rules about how the meeting should be conducted, and the procedures could not easily be simplified.
House Committee chairwoman Miriam Lau Kin-yee said the Legco secretariat estimated that the second and third readings of the electoral bill might finish by Sunday night.