DAB lawmakers vow support for old-age allowance
The government moved a step closer to passing its controversial old age allowance scheme on Tuesday, when the city’s largest pro-establishment party pledged its support for the measure.
The Democratic Alliance for the Betterment and Progress of Hong Kong (DAB), with 12 votes in the 70-member Legislative Council, will vote for the proposal at a Finance Committee meeting this evening, party chairman Tam Yiu-chung told a press conference on Tuesday morning.
Despite some reservations, the party is backing the plan in its current form to ensure speedy passage, to let poor elderly people receive the HK$2,200 monthly benefit with no further delay, he said.
In recent days the DAB has remained unclear about how its members would vote, while asking the government to raise the cap for eligibility from the current level of HK$186,000 in assets.
Tam said the party would continue to press its demand for a higher asset cap.
“If we insist on our demand at this stage, we may go into a long-running deadlock,” he said. “Although the scheme has some imperfections, many people will be disappointed if its funding is rejected [by lawmakers].”
The party decided to support the allowance partly because of a recent DAB opinion poll, in which 47.5 per cent of the 1,300 respondents said the allowance should be passed even with its current means test and asset limits. Thirty per cent said lawmakers should veto the scheme, while 22.5 had no opinion.
When asked whether the decision would reinforce the public impression that the DAB is pro-government, Tam said, “The DAB is pro-elderly.”
Lawmakers will hold a special Finance Committee meeting on Tuesday evening to discuss, and vote on, the allowance’s funding proposal.
Earlier on Tuesday, Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying said he would scrap neither the means test nor asset cap requirements.
“The government’s stance on the proposal is that it will not make any adjustment to it,” Leung said, speaking before an Executive Council meeting.
Meanwhile, radical pan-democrats have said they are planning a filibuster for Tuesday evening’s meeting, in an attempt to gain concessions from the government.