Executive, legislature must restore working relationship

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 05 July, 2014, 4:01am
UPDATED : Saturday, 05 July, 2014, 10:58am

It wouldn't be much of an overstatement to say that our legislature has degenerated into chaos. Legco is, of course, nowhere near anarchy. But the drama that has unfolded over the past week is nothing short of disturbing - funding approved amid chaos; proceedings dragged out by endless headcounts; a glass hurled during the chief executive's question time. Something is clearly amiss. This is not the first time the question-and-answer session has been hit by violence. While it used to be a show involving just a handful of rebels - Wong Yuk-man, Albert Chan Wai-yip, Leung Kwok-hung and Raymond Chan Chi-chuen - the unruly behaviour has spilled over to moderate pan-democrats. Although the members distanced themselves from the glass-throwing, they disrupted the council's business with a noisy protest.

Wong's action has clearly crossed a line. Although the glass did not hit the chief executive, the shattered pieces could have caused injuries to others. The Chief Executive's Office later reported the case to the police, prompting officers to launch a probe inside the chamber. Tension surged further when the council chiefs were not told about the evidence gathering, raising questions as to whether protocol had been breached.

Defending their action, the pan-democrats say the chief executive no longer deserves their respect. While they are entitled to their views, their action does not necessarily win public respect. Some rebels have indeed set a bad example for the younger generation. Filibusters and violence are hardly the right tools to advance one's cause. It would be worrying if it escalates further into fist fights or other violent actions.

That some lawmakers have once again brought shame to the council is regrettable. The damage goes beyond its image and dignity; it shows that the relationship between the executive arm and the legislature has become antagonistic. To the pan-democrats, the government is too oppressive. To the administration, Legco has become an obstacle to governance.

The executive and the legislature have unique constitutional roles to play. They are as much rivals as working partners. What we need is rational debate and scrutiny rather than political bickering and theatrics.

At stake is how Hong Kong is to be governed. Both sides have a duty to ensure that they can cooperate effectively. Restoring a normal working relationship should be made a priority.