Cooperation between the Hong Kong government and Legco is essential
Not long after his election as one of the nine legislators for New Territories West, Eddie Chu Hoi-dick alleged government-business-rural-triad collusion regarding the proposed plan to build 17,000 public housing flats in Wang Chau, Yuen Long.
It was claimed the government had given in to pressure from certain quarters to start off only with a first phase to build 4,000 flats instead of following the original plan to build all 17,000 flats under one project.
On September 21, Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying held a press conference attended by Financial Secretary John Tsang Chun-wah and Secretary for Transport and Housing Anthony Cheung Bing-leung. Mr Leung said he took full responsibility for the decision to change the project into three phases.
He denied any collusion and explained that at one of the weekly meetings in January 2014, attended by the chief secretary, financial secretary and justice secretary, he decided to accept the Housing Department’s recommendation to go ahead with the first phase of 4,000 units and defer the second and third phases.
He said this would allow time for the government to tackle the thorny problem of the brownfield site (ruined farmland) that was being used by rural businessmen for car parks and open storage. When the brownfield site problem has been resolved, the government can then build the remaining 13,000 public housing flats for the Wang Chau project.
The chief executive has promised to set up a consultation platform to engage all stakeholders, including legislator-elect Eddie Chu to work together to resolve the issues regarding completion of the project.
With the new Legislative Council opening on Wednesday, as a former legislator, I believe it is crucial for Hong Kong’s economic, social and political future, that the government and Legco be seen as working together in an effective way so that Hong Kong’s competitive image is not further damaged by the past filibustering and often obstructive and ill-mannered tactics of some lawmakers.
The new president will not only be firm, fair and steadfast in exercising his responsibilities, but will always keep the door open to all lawmakers whatever their political views.
In a ruling in 2014, the Court of Final Appeal found the president’s power to set limits to and terminate a debate was inherent in the Basic Law provision that the president had the power to “ preside over meetings”.
Hilton Cheong-Leen, To Kwa Wan