Outgoing legal sector lawmaker Margaret Ng Ngoi-yee yesterday expressed concern that a pro-establishment legislator may chair the Legislative Council's panel on legal affairs.
Ng chaired the panel and represented the legal sector during a 16-year tenure, which started in 1995 and was interrupted for one year by the post-handover, Beijing-appointed provisional legislature.
A Civic Party colleague of Ng, barrister Dennis Kwok Wing-hang, 34, is succeeding her as the legal sector lawmaker after winning the September 9 ballot.
Kwok is seeking to become chairman of the legal panel but he is likely to be challenged by pro-establishment lawmaker Priscilla Leung Mei-fun, the panel's deputy chairwoman for the past four years.
Ng expressed support for Kwok yesterday at a farewell gathering with the press, saying: "It is not good for the legal affairs in Legco to carry too much of Western district's colours," referring to the location of the central government's liaison office, with which Leung is regarded as having a close relationship.
Ng said she had reservations about Leung's "way of participation and attitude" during her past four years in Legco.
According to convention, a new face to the legislature would not chair a panel at the start of a term, but would wait two years when the chairmanship of committees and panels are re-open for election. Ng said the legal panel did not follow convention and being a new face should not be an obstacle for Kwok.
"When I chaired the panel in 1995, I was a new face too, and I did not 'swap' my chairmanship with my deputy chairwoman Priscilla Leung two years ago," she said.
Ng said she was worried about the administration's ability to work with Legco, and the prospect of a rubber-stamp legislature, given the pro-establishment camp's plan to tighten rules to ban filibusters.
"I think the matter is whether lawmakers respect different views and [embrace the spirit of] free discussion, it is not whether the rules of procedure are amended or not … it is not looking optimistic to me," Ng said.