My Take

Bubble trouble for the pan-dems in Legco property cooling vote

PUBLISHED : Monday, 24 February, 2014, 2:52am
UPDATED : Monday, 24 February, 2014, 2:52am

We live in interesting times. During the nail-biting final vote on the government's higher stamp duties to cool the property market, in-your-face lawmakers "Long Hair" Leung Kwok-hung of the League of Social Democrats and Gary Fan Kwok-wai of the NeoDemocrats backed the government. However, 23 of their pan-democratic colleagues walked out of the legislative chamber in protest at ... at something called "negative vetting". Whatever!

Even People Power duo Albert Chan Wai-yip and Raymond Chan Chi-chuen abstained, rather than joining the rest of the pan-dem crew. The anti-property-bubble package is one of the few government initiatives that actually had widespread public support and societal consensus. That made it difficult for the pan-dems to squeeze political capital out of going against Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying in this case. But try they had to, so they picked an obscure point to fight over and walk out on.

Meanwhile, Jeffrey Lam Kin-fung of the Business and Professionals Alliance was nowhere to be seen during the voting. A long weekend lunch was perhaps more important than public interest. This is, after all, the guy who presides over the government's Mega Events Fund who thought nothing of wasting millions on golf ace Rory McIlroy and Manchester United respectively at events where the public would inevitably be given few tickets in favour of the sponsors and the rich and well-connected. It's called promoting Hong Kong.

Aren't Executive Council members like Lam supposed to support government policy? Lam was, of course, a core supporter of Henry Tang Ying-yen and was mightily upset the wrong horse won the last chief executive race. In appointing him to Exco, Leung was taking Lyndon Johnson's immortal words to heart: "It's better to have him inside the tent pissing out, than outside the tent pissing in." Alas, it appears Lam is perfectly happy to relieve himself inside Leung's tent as well. Imagine if Tang had been the chief executive; he probably would insist there was no property bubble and more incentives need to be given to the big developers and speculators.

Whatever you say about Leung, at least in this case, he wasn't in the pockets of the big real estate boys.