Further sessions called to clear backlog of Legco funding requests

Bid to ease backlog of funding requests before summer recess, but radicals' stance on landfills and incinerator mean effort may be wasted

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 08 July, 2014, 3:42am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 08 July, 2014, 9:33am

Almost the entire Legislative Council is being asked to attend an extra eight-hour meeting on Saturday to ease a backlog of more than 40 government funding requests before the legislature ceases operation for its summer recess.

The suggestion was met with threats from radical pan-democratic lawmakers to stage more filibustering if the government refused to remove funding applications for its controversial waste infrastructure plans.

Legco's 69-member Finance Committee - which excludes only legislative president Jasper Tsang Yok-sing - was previously mired in pan-democrats' weeks-long challenge to funding for a northeastern New Territories development plan, eventually approved amid chaos on June 27.

The delay means many requests for cash are still on the table for the committee, including for the reconstruction of Queen Mary Hospital in Pok Fu Lam and proposals for more waste facilities.

Committee chairman Ng Leung-sing suggested convening four more sessions - equivalent to eight hours - this weekend, a day after its last scheduled meeting on Friday, before lawmakers took their summer breaks.

"Most of the parties consulted agreed to hold an additional meeting," he said yesterday.

"On top of the six-hour meeting on Friday, I believe … it can help ease the backlog right now."

Ng, a pro-establishment lawmaker, also advised the government to prioritise less controversial items on the agenda to speed up processing on the committee, though a government source ruled out that possibility for fear of setting a bad precedent.

Funding requests likely to see more delays include those for the building of an incinerator at Shek Kwu Chau, extensions to the Tseung Kwan O and Ta Kwu Ling landfills and a feasibility study on enlarging the Tuen Mun dump. These are the 28th to 31st items to be discussed by the committee.

Lawmaker Albert Chan Wai-yip, of People Power, said he would not rule out any means, including filibustering, to stop the committee approving the funds for those projects.

"We will let the items pass that were listed before the waste infrastructure plans," Chan said. "But the items scheduled after these plans will have no hope of being discussed."

Democratic Party chairwoman Emily Lau Wai-hing, who backs holding the extra sessions, also called for the shelving of the incinerator and landfill projects.

Tomorrow, the committee will hold a meeting to vote on League of Social Democrats lawmaker "Long Hair" Leung Kwok-hung's motion of no confidence against Ng, who allegedly breached Legco's rules of procedure to push through a vote on HK$340 million initial funding for the development of two New Territories towns.