Legislative Council

Hong Kong chief executive vows to improve relations with pan-democratic lawmakers

But pro-democracy councillors do not reciprocate, with all but one boycotting Leung Chun-ying’s annual visit to the Legislative Council

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 29 November, 2016, 9:01pm
UPDATED : Tuesday, 29 November, 2016, 10:58pm

Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying has vowed to improve the government’s relationship with pan-democratic lawmakers, who for once did not bother to protest during the leader’s annual visit to the Legislative Council on Tuesday.

All but one of them boycotted the one-hour champagne-toasting session – leaving the man tipped to run again for the city’s top job next year in a relaxed mood to chat with pro-establishment lawmakers.

The no-show, the pan-democrats insisted, was designed to highlight the rift between Leung’s administration and the pro-democracy camp, especially after several weeks marred by Leung’s attempts – the latest one triggered on Tuesday – to disqualify lawmakers showing independence leanings.

The show of defiance came a few days after Leung pledged to unite the whole legislature, a comment interpreted as a sign that he would seek a second term.

In response to the boycott, Leung said he “attached great importance to the relationship between the executive branch and the legislature.

“What the government and I can do is do our utmost to have exchanges with lawmakers on different occasions, but we cannot make decisions for political parties and lawmakers as to how they should respond,” he said.

Apart from the move to disqualify lawmakers who failed to take the oath solemnly, the government and pro-establishment lawmakers have also taken on other pan-democrats in recent weeks.

Development minister Paul Chan Mo-po said he advised his deputy to call police after “Long Hair” Leung Kwok-hung grabbed some confidential documents from the official.

Leung was also subject to police investigation after he was filmed throwing luncheon meat at fellow lawmaker Ma Fung-kwok during a protest.

Cheng Chung-tai was accused of being unpatriotic when he inverted national flags that several pro-establishment lawmakers put on their desks in the legislature. They are now trying to use Legco rules to disqualify him.

On November 2, there was chaos in the legislature when localists Sixtus Baggio Leung Chung-hang and Yau Wai-ching and their assistants tried to storm a meeting on the second floor of the Legco complex.

Legco president Andrew Leung Kwan-yuen said last week that the Legco secretariat would consult journalists on media arrangements on the building’s second floor, where house and finance committee meetings are held every Friday.

Leung said the corridor on that floor was “very narrow”, and he hoped that no safety issue or “obstruction” would be caused while reporters did their job.

The Post understands that the secretariat has been asking for reporters’ views on the possibility of banning them from entering or staying in one of the key corridors on the floor.

Meanwhile, fewer than one in four Hongkongers – or 23 per cent – supported Leung as chief executive, according to the latest poll conducted by the University of Hong Kong’s public opinion programme.

Sixty-one per cent of the 1,000 respondents polled from November 21 to last Thursday cast a vote of no-confidence in Leung, down 10 percentage points from a survey conducted earlier this month .

Leung’s rating was 40.7 out of a possible 100 marks, up from 36.3 earlier this month, a jump that was described as “significant” by the programme’s research manager, Frank Lee Wai-kin.

On the overall performance of the government, 29 per cent were satisfied, while 45 per cent were unhappy.

Additional reporting by Tony Cheung