Lawmaker calls for coalition of parties to govern Hong Kong

James Tien says governance is a concern as CY does 'worse and worse' job as chief executive

PUBLISHED : Monday, 26 August, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 26 August, 2013, 5:50am

Liberal Party leader James Tien Pei-chun has called for a coalition government to improve how the city is run, suggesting the model could help smooth the relationship between Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying's team and the legislature and resolve the governance crisis facing Leung.

A decade ago, Tien acted as convenor for an eight-party alliance in the legislature that included members from both the pan-democratic and pro-establishment blocs. But the alliance broke down as relationships between parties became strained when the government tried to bulldoze through national security legislation in 2003.

In recent months, the administration's difficulties in securing the legislature's support for its policies have been underlined by a failed landfill extension plan and delays in implementing an old-age living allowance scheme.

In an interview last Tuesday, Tien said that instead of focusing on the details of universal suffrage, politicians and academics should re-examine the alliance model used 10 years ago and look at ways of building on it, such as by appointing party representatives as ministers.

"Since the start of the year, I think Leung Chun-ying has been doing a worse and worse job," Tien said. "And I think the future of Hong Kong lies not in the election of the chief executive or Legco, but [its] governance.

"Even if [Civic Party chairwoman] Audrey Eu Yuet-mee won the election under universal suffrage in 2017 … if the pro-establishment bloc dominates Legco and says no to everything, how can you do your job?"

He said that under a coalition government, politicians from the Civic and Democratic parties could be appointed as the justice and housing chiefs, respectively, and that members of the Liberal Party and the Democratic Alliance for the Betterment and Progress of Hong Kong, could take over as financial and chief secretaries.

He said that such a model would be difficult to operate under Leung's government because the pan-democrats have reservations about Leung's integrity, but that politicians such as Legco president Jasper Tsang Yok-sing and Chief Secretary Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor could win pan-democrat support to lead a coalition government if elected as the city's next leader.

"It was a pity that the governance issue was ignored when we talked about reform proposals," Tien said.

Tien's ideas echo those of Joseph Cheng Yu-shek, convenor of the Alliance for True Democracy, which consists of 26 out of 27 pan-democratic lawmakers.

But executive councillor and New People's Party chairwoman Regina Ip Lau Suk-yee said she doubted a coalition model was feasible, no matter who led it.

"Can you imagine the SAR government being run by a coalition of eight parties?" she asked. "Without a common platform, one party wanting standard working hours by legislation and another party objecting to it - how can that work?"