Martin Lee calls for shadow cabinet

PUBLISHED : Friday, 26 October, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 26 October, 2012, 4:22am

The pan-democrats must create their own political arena, such as a shadow cabinet, to counter the "majority tyranny" of pro-establishment lawmakers in the new legislature, a political heavyweight has warned.

Martin Lee Chu-ming, founding chairman of the Democratic Party, said pan-democrats needed a proactive mentality in place of their usual reactive mode, to initiate policies and show the public they could govern.

"Legco has become the home ground for pro-government parties," he said. "A divided pan-democratic camp can no longer effectively defend the core values of Hong Kong. We must set our own agenda."

As an example of "majority tyranny" Lee noted pro-establishment lawmakers chaired 16 out of 20 Legco panels.

Lee also pointed to a vote on Wednesday by the judiciary and legal services panel against holding a special session to investigate a claim by Elsie Leung Oi-sie - the Basic Law Committee vice-chairwoman - that the top court had made mistakes because it did not understand the city's relationship with Beijing.

Lee said no party had emerged as a leader of the pan-democratic camp, and unity was needed in the current hostile political climate.

The camp could borrow the idea of a shadow cabinet, setting up their own platforms for important issues, he said. Current and former lawmakers, together with experts in the relevant fields, could become unofficial shadow ministers and undersecretaries.

"The cabinet can invite experts and stakeholders to their own meetings. For example, they can hold their own panel meetings to pursue [Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying's] comments," Lee said. "By setting the agenda, we can put more pressure on the government."

Lee said he would discuss the proposal with the Democratic Party and the Civic Party, which each have six seats in the Legislative Council.

Lawmaker Sin Chung-kai, vice-chairman of the Democratic Party, welcomed the idea and said the party could study it.

But Dr Sing Ming, a political scientist at the University of Science and Technology, said the proposal could face huge difficulties because it would require the pan-democratic camp to voice a single view and for the parties to pool their resources.

"Unless the parties feel the same sense of crisis, such a proposal is not likely to be realised," he said.