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Legislative Council

Hong Kong lawmakers warned: stop delaying or we’ll surround Legco with trucks

Construction Alliance says filibustering is slowing down new projects and hurting thousands of workers

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 08 June, 2017, 8:23pm
UPDATED : Wednesday, 14 June, 2017, 12:15pm

A local construction alliance has threatened to surround the Legislative Council’s complex in Admiralty with trucks if lawmakers keep using filibustering tactics to delay infrastructure projects.

About 20 members of the Hong Kong Construction Alliance, which represents 16 associations in the industry, met chief executive-elect Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor on Thursday and expressed their “strong discontent” at the current situation, said Thomas Tse Che-wah, chief executive of the alliance.

“It will get worse in the next two to three years for this industry,” he said. “With the slowing down of the building of new projects due to tedious approval procedures at Legco, more people will lose their jobs.”

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He estimated that around 30 per cent of the city’s architecture students could not find internships this year amid the worsening situation, while about 450,000 families with members working in the industry could be affected.

Chow Luen-kiu from the Hong Kong Construction Industry Employees General Union said he would send trucks to surround the Legco complex if filibustering continued.

Why don’t these lawmakers consider citizens who are eagerly waiting to buy their first property?
Chow Luen-kiu, construction industry union

“A construction worker jumped from a building last year as there were not many jobs in the industry,” Chow said. “Why in a city that is so rich do us workers still have to endure such a fate?

“Why don’t these lawmakers consider citizens who are eagerly waiting to buy their first property?”

The government needed to roll out at least HK$70 billion worth of new public projects every year, subject to Legco’s approval, in order to keep the construction industry sustainable and the city’s development competitive, according to the alliance.

However, only seven new public projects worth HK$ 4.8 billion have been approved by Legco so far this year, accounting for around 5 per cent of the overall HK$86 billion budget expected to be allocated to new public projects, Tse said. And 30 projects in the pipeline were waiting for funding approval, he added.

Opposition pan-democrat lawmakers have taken issue with a number of major projects, including the HK$31.9 billion sports park at the site of the former Kai Tak airport, and a request for top-up funding of HK$847.7 million for a rail link between Sha Tin and Central.

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In response to the alliance’s criticism, former pan-democratic legislator Lee Cheuk-yan said more efforts should be put into building smaller public projects if the bigger ones tended to be more controversial and harder to receive Legco approval.

Tse refused to disclose details of the meeting with Lam but said he had “strong confidence” in the new leader, who takes office on July 1, and thought she was “very committed” to improving the situation.

Protests against filibustering might happen in the coming one or two weeks outside Legco, said Lawrence Ng San-wa from the Hong Kong Construction Sub-Contractors Association, adding that further details would be revealed later.

Additional reporting by Tracy Zhang.