Culture of capitulation rules in Legco, Michael Tien says

Lawmakers care only to score cheap shots and derail government ideas, politician claims

PUBLISHED : Monday, 14 January, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 26 October, 2016, 2:38pm

Pro-establishment lawmaker Michael Tien Puk-sun has criticised a prevailing "culture of capitulation" in the legislature, in which the opposition resorts to personal attacks and obstructionist tactics to derail government ideas.

Such behaviour was partly to blame for bringing development to a "virtual standstill".

"Whenever the government rolls out any new policy proposals, it gets slapped around by the legislators who subject officials to personal attacks, gives them the third degree, until the government capitulates," he told RTHK Radio 3 programme Letter to Hong Kong yesterday.

"There seems to be a disturbing lack of civility towards office-holders and even fellow legislators."

Tien (pictured) is deputy chair of the government-friendly New People's Party, of which the chair, Regina Ip Lau Suk-yee, sits on the Executive Council.

Tien lambasted some lawmakers for seeking to score "cheap political points against the government".

He said there was a "haggler's culture", in which "legislators are primarily interested in scoring cheap political points against the government for the consumption of their constituents". He did not name any names.

Between October and December, legislator "Long Hair" Leung Kwok-hung, of the League of Social Democrats, made use of filibusters in an attempt to block a popular government plan to replace the "fruit money" of needy elderly with a higher monthly allowance of HK$2,200. Leung's tactic delayed the implementation of the plan by a month.

"Everything is reduced to haggling for the sake of haggling," Tien said.

"In the end, these legislators fail to see the forest for the trees, to the detriment of Hong Kong's overall interest.

"Legislators [should] be educators to their less-enlightened constituents, who are mostly looking out only for their own narrow interests."

Tien tempered his criticism of the opposition by saying the government was also partly to blame. The administration tried to push policies through Legco before thorough consultation. The result of that was "the government is banging its head against the brick wall and always retreating in abject defeat".

"I must fault it for its fundamentally flawed consultation process. The government has habitually adopted a one-way communication approach, with its message couched in dense bureaucratese, giving one the impression it is more interested in the process, and not the outcome."