Hong Kong’s pro-establishment, pan-democratic camps in a fierce tussle over committee polls

Both not backing down in fight for leadership positions on Legco panels after dispute over allocation of posts in proportion to number of seats held by each camp

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 13 October, 2016, 11:01pm
UPDATED : Thursday, 13 October, 2016, 11:02pm

The pro-establishment and the pro-democracy camps will be playing hardball with each other in the upcoming elections for leadership of various Legislative Council committees, as the former refused to divide the posts in proportion to the seats the respective camps hold.

A day after the inaugural meeting of the newly elected Legco ended in chaos and recrimination, the open war continued, with convenors of both sides announcing there would be no room for coordination over the committees.

This came ahead of polls to vote for the chairmen of the 18 Legco panels next Tuesday, and of two key committees – the public works and the establishment subcommittees – the day after.

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Shortly after the 70 lawmakers were elected, the two camps had met to try and reach an agreement over how to divide the posts among themselves.

It was considered a sign of ice-breaking because last year, pan-democrats, who were in the minority, were voted down in all their bids for chairmanships.

But James To Kun-sun of the democratic camp said the negotiations had fallen through.

“Their offer to us leaves no room for discussion,” the Democratic Party lawmaker said. “We have indicated we won’t accept leftovers. We can only opt for war now.”

The pro-establishment camp, with 40 out of 70 seats in Legco, have offered to let To’s side take chairmanships of only seven out of the 18 panels in the first year – of which none are key ones such as the constitutional, security, home affairs and development panels.

To insisted that chairmanships be divided in proportion to the number of seats held by each camp, which is 30:40.

What annoyed the democratic camp more was that the pro-Beijing camp would not concede leadership of any of the important committees, including the House Committee, the Finance Committee, the public works and the establishment subcommittees.

He said his camp would not accept the offer and would field candidates for half of the panels and committees next week.

Martin Liao Cheung-kong, convenor of the pro-Beijing camp, yesterday told the media that he also “regretted” and was “disappointed” in that decision.

“Our camp has shown a great deal of benevolence,” the commercial-sector lawmaker said. “I hope they can give it a rethink in the next two days.”

The deadline for submitting chairmanship bids is on Saturday.

“If no consensus is reached, the pro-establishment camp will actively participate in the work of all committees and the election will be conducted without consensus,” Liao said, adding that the council never had a practice of dividing the jobs in proportion to the seats the camps held.