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Legislative Council of Hong Kong

More exchanges between Hong Kong and mainland lawmakers sought for coming year

Legco House Committee chair Starry Lee wants to promote more such visits in wake of ‘successful’ Dongjiang River Basin trip in April

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 12 July, 2017, 9:52am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 12 July, 2017, 9:52am

More exchanges between mainland and Hong Kong lawmakers will be promoted in the coming year following the satisfactory Guangdong visit three months ago, according to the head of the Legislative Council’s House Committee.

Starry Lee Wai-king, also the chairwoman of the Democratic Alliance for the Betterment and Progress of Hong Kong, the city’s largest pro-Beijing party, revealed the plan on Tuesday, saying the two-day Legco visit to the Dongjiang River Basin in Guangdong province had been a success.

Eighteen lawmakers participated in the April trip, including radical pan-democrat “Long Hair” Leung Kwok-hung, who was given a one-off home-return permit and successfully entered the mainland for the first time in a decade.

Lee said: “Hong Kong is part of China, and Legco is a major component of the HKSAR. It is unusual that this kind of exchange was deemed special and rare.”

She added she would try to promote more exchanges with the mainland on policy matters in the coming year.

Dongjiang visit a sign that Beijing and pan-democrats can talk

Citing the newly introduced Bond Connect and Stock Connect with Shanghai and Shenzhen as examples, Lee suggested that the various Legco panels organise related cross-border visits.

House Committee vice-chairman Dennis Kwok, of the Civic Party, said the Dongjiang River delegation had been well accepted by the pan-democrats as it was about a very pragmatic issue.

Whether pan-democrats would participate in similar trips in the future would depend on the goals and agenda of the visits, he said.

Lee and Kwok were speaking at a press conference to review the work of Legco in the 2016–2017 session, when a total of 28 government bills were introduced and only six were tabled in the first half of the year. As of Tuesday, 11 of the 28 bills had been passed, and two will be dealt with at the council meeting on Wednesday.

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Lee attributed the slow legislative work to filibustering by the pan-democrats over the past year.

But Kwok disagreed and said the new administration should table the bills, especially the controversial ones, as soon as possible so as to allow more time for members to discuss them.

“The effectiveness and efficiency of the Legislative Council is not measured solely by how many pieces of legislation we passed or how many items the Finance Committee passed.

“Sometimes it is about blocking the wrong piece of legislation or blocking the wrong piece of public work that should not cost Hong Kong people so much,” he said.