Lawmakers round on government's planned new technology bureau

Questions raised about structure while radicals plan filibuster of funding application

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 15 April, 2014, 5:19am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 15 April, 2014, 6:37am

The Leung Chun-ying administration's plan to establish a technology bureau could again be jeopardised by a filibuster, while lawmakers of all stripes have questioned its proposed structure.

League of Social Democrats chairman "Long Hair" Leung Kwok-hung vowed to block its funding in protest at the government's handling of the HKTV affair.

And at a meeting of the Legislative Council's panel on information technology and broadcasting yesterday, members from across the political spectrum argued that CreateHK, the government department which promotes the development of creative industries, should be moved from the existing Commerce and Economic Development Bureau (CEDB) to the proposed innovation and technology bureau.

Members of the New People's Party, the Democratic Party and the Democratic Alliance for the Betterment and Progress of Hong Kong all favoured the new bureau overseeing creative industries. The Intellectual Property Department should also be housed under the new bureau, the New People's Party and the Business and Professionals Alliance suggested.

The government wants both departments to remain under the CEDB, while the Office of the Government Chief Information Officer and the Innovation and Technology Commission would be moved to the new bureau.

Leung said he would filibuster the government's application for funding approval of HK$30 million for the bureau in protest at the refusal to grant a free television licence to Ricky Wong Wai-kay's Hong Kong Television Network, a decision within the CEDB's purview.

"I don't trust what he does. He was even wrong in the licensing incident," Leung said, referring to Secretary for Commerce and Economic Development Greg So Kam-leung. "It's not proper to link these two separate issues," So countered after the meeting.

Two years ago, Leung Chun-ying's plan for a technology bureau was shelved after a filibuster.

People Power's Raymond Chan Chi-chuen said he and his colleague Albert Chan Wai-yip were considering joining Leung's filibuster.

The government says the new bureau will spend between about HK$36 million and HK$38 million a year; the HK$30 million application is to cover staffing costs.

"It is highly unlikely the bureau will be set up by the end of this legislative year in June," Chan predicted.