A proposal for new roles within the government's planned innovation and technology bureau sailed through a legislative subcommittee yesterday, minutes after its members rejected a radical lawmaker's request to join the subcommittee.
The vetting could have been bogged down by the more than 50 motions that "Long Hair" Leung Kwok-hung, of the League of Social Democrats, had filed against establishing the bureau.
But Leung is serving a four-week jail term passed down on Monday for an incident in 2011, when he gatecrashed a public forum on Legco by-elections.
In Leung's absence, the Legislative Council establishment subcommittee would not process the motions, chairwoman Regina Ip Lau Suk-yee, of the New People's Party, said.
Pro-government lawmakers on the subcommittee also refused a membership request by People Power lawmaker Albert Chan Wai-yip, who was expected to filibuster in place of Leung.
Chan said that as far as he could remember, no Legco committee had ever rejected a lawmaker's request to join in the past two to three decades.
"It would be a shame if my request was rejected because of political issues," he said, arguing that the voice of the "progressive democrats" had to be present on the subcommittee.
Pro-government lawmakers refused to budge.
"It is obvious he is asking to join because he is trying to stall the government's proposal," Starry Lee Wai-king, of the Democratic Alliance for the Betterment and Progress of Hong Kong, said. "If [Chan] wants to make his voice heard, he can do so on the Finance Committee."
Pan-democrats including Kenneth Leung of the Professional Commons were in favour of accepting Chan, but the motion was eventually voted down.
"You people have no shame," Chan said as he stormed out of the meeting.
Soon afterwards, the proposal to create top positions at the new IT bureau, including a bureau director, deputy director and political assistant, was approved.
The government now needs to get its plan past the Finance Committee and, eventually, the full council. Secretary for Commerce and Economic Development Greg So Kam-leung hopes that can be done on June 27 and July 2, respectively.
The schedule may yet be derailed; after he was rejected, Chan said he would do "whatever it takes" to block the passage of the proposal. He added that the government had not carried out a public consultation on setting up the bureau.