A fierce debate is expected in the Legislative Council today over the use of a HK$100 million donation to help Sichuan earthquake victims, with radical pan-democrats threatening to block approval with a filibuster.
Some people fear that the donation, proposed by Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying, could fall into the hands of corrupt mainland officials.
Last night, major parties in the pro-democracy camp said they would oppose any suggestions of government-to-government donations in a special Finance Committee meeting. People Power lawmaker Albert Chan Wai-yip said the party would not rule out launching another filibuster to block its passage.
Leading parties in the pro-establishment camp vowed to support the funding application.
Video: The Post takes to the streets to ask Hongkongers whether they think the government should donate money to the Sichuan aid effort
A government paper presented to Legco last night says a sum of HK$100 million will be injected into the Disaster Relief Fund, and the same amount will be donated directly to the Sichuan provincial government. Non-government relief organisations could also apply to the fund.
Chief Secretary Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor, who chairs the fund's advisory committee, said there were precedents for Hong Kong to provide emergency relief to the mainland due to blood links between the people.
"The disaster [in Sichuan] involves more than a million victims. Given that we are making donations to show our concern, we cannot make special requests [in the use of the funds] but the provincial government has to inform us afterwards how the money has been used," Lam said.
Leung said the emergency relief would show the city's support for mainland compatriots, adding the government would monitor the use of funds.
Professional Teachers' Union internal affairs vice-president Cheung Man-kwong said the executive committee would not pass donations to mainland authorities or government-affiliated groups like the Red Cross Society of China. Instead they would probably pass on the cash to credible NGOs like the Salvation Army, Medecins Sans Frontieres and Unicef.