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Legislative Council of Hong Kong

Pan-democrats win one more Legco panel chair, bringing total to six out of 18

Remaining positions filled without drama, in sharp contrast to chaotic election earlier this month

PUBLISHED : Friday, 28 October, 2016, 3:42pm
UPDATED : Friday, 28 October, 2016, 11:29pm

The non-establishment camp ended up with one third of the Legislative Council’s 18 panel chairmanships after securing one more of the posts on an unusually peaceful Friday morning, two days after the bloc’s protests caused the legislature’s weekly meeting to be adjourned.

However, in a separate election on Friday afternoon, the camp did not manage to get any of the three lawmakers’ seats on the Chinese University’s governing council, with its rivals denying their dominance was intended to block attempts to democratise the university governing structure.

The scramble for the various seats at Legco yesterday started with the election of the chiefs for the remaining five of the 18 panels, which are responsible for debating policy issues and government proposals, and their chairmen are empowered to set the agenda.

Only 13 of the panels had their chairmen and deputies elected on Friday last week after the pro-government and non-establishment camps engaged in bitter disputes, mainly over the Legco president’s handling of two localist lawmakers’ use of insulting language during their oath-taking a week before.

Five pan-democrats were elected panel chairmen last week, and the camp’s victory yesterday brings the total to six, four more than In the 2015-16 year. Their rivals chair 12 other panels, after bagging the chairmanship of the remaining four yesterday.

Asked why Friday’s five panel chairmanship polls took place in an unusually peaceful manner, Civic Party’s Dr Kwok Ka-ki told the Post: “We have done everything we could ... I have decided to do my best and show people that the legislature still has a role and still has some quality.”

Kwok said that there were more than 30 pro-establishment lawmakers on many panels, outnumbering those from the pan-democrat and localist camp, which had a total of 30 lawmakers.

This meant that if the pro-establishment camp was interested in a panel’s chairmanship, it was unlikely for any pan-democrat to win, he added.

Kwok was elected as the transport panel’s deputy chairman on Friday morning after being defeated by pro-establishment lawmaker Ben Chan Han-pan in the chairmanship race.

Pan-democrat lawmakers Ip Kin-yuen and James To Kun-sun were elected deputy chairman of the education and security panels after losing out to pro-establishment rivals Ann Chiang Lai-wan and Gary Chan Hak-kan, respectively.

The exception was veteran pan-democrat Leung Yiu-chung, who was returned uncontested as the manpower panel’s chairman, while Beijing-loyalist labour representative Jonathan Ho Kai-ming was returned uncontested as his deputy.

The constitutional affairs panel’s two top posts were dominated by the pro-establishment camp. Martin Liao Cheung-kong was elected chairman, while Holden Chow Ho-ding was elected his deputy.

In the afternoon, the Legco’s house committee met to elect three lawmakers to sit on the Chinese University’s council. In the last four years, two Beijing-loyalists took up the posts, while a pan-democrat represented the camp.

However, the pro-establishment nominated three candidates this time, and the trio were elected at the expense of the pan-democrats’ choice Professor Edward Yiu Chung-yim, who teaches at the university.

After the election, a disappointed Yiu said the Beijing-loyalists’ plan showed that they wanted to stop him from pushing for a reform, which will remove the city’s top official Leung Chun-ying as the university’s chancellor. But pro-establishment lawmaker Gary Chan Hak-kan, who was involved in the camp’s internal co-ordination, denied.

The non-establishment camp ended up with one third of the Legislative Council’s 18 panel chairmanships after securing one more of the posts on an unusually peaceful Friday morning, two days after the bloc’s protests caused the legislature’s weekly meeting to be adjourned.

Legco’s panels are responsible for debating policy issues and government proposals, and their chairmen are influential on public policy as they are empowered to set the panel’s agenda.

On October 18, the chairmanship elections for five panels had to be postponed until Friday after the pan-democratic and pro-establishment camps engaged in bitter disputes, mainly over the Legco president’s handling of two localist lawmakers’ use of insulting language during their oath-taking a week before.

Five pan-democrats were elected panel chairmen during that session, and the camp’s latest victory brings the total to six.

Asked why Friday’s five panel chairmanship polls took place in an unusually peaceful manner, Civic Party’s Dr Kwok Ka-ki said: “We have done everything we could ... I have decided to do my best and show people that the legislature still has a role and still has some quality.”

Kwok said that there were more than 30 pro-establishment lawmakers on many panels, outnumbering those from the pan-democrat and localist camp, which had a total of 30 lawmakers.

This meant that if the pro-establishment camp was interested in a panel’s chairmanship, it was unlikely for any pan-democrat to win, he added.

Kwok was elected as the transport panel’s deputy chairman on Friday morning after losing to pro-establishment lawmaker Ben Chan Han-pan in the chairmanship race.

Pan-democrat lawmakers Ip Kin-yuen and James To Kun-sun were elected deputy chairman of the education and security panels after losing out to pro-establishment rivals Ann Chiang Lai-wan and Gary Chan Hak-kan, respectively.

The exception was veteran pan-democrat Leung Yiu-chung, who was returned uncontested as the manpower panel’s chairman, while Beijing-loyalist labour representative Jonathan Ho Kai-ming was returned uncontested as his deputy.

The constitutional affairs panel’s two top posts were dominated by the pro-establishment camp. Martin Liao Cheung-kong was elected chairman, while Holden Chow Ho-ding was elected his deputy.