No-shows for Legco panel meetings hit a record high
Strategy in battle for chairmanships blamed as 17 legislators found not to have attended gatherings on policy issues they were often unfamiliar with
A record 17 lawmakers had zero attendance rates on some Legislative Council panels last year, having signed up for more meetings than they could cope with.
Members of the pro-establishment and pan-democrat camps blamed their absences on the strategy to fight for panel chairmanships at a time of heightened political tension.
A Post investigation of the legislative year, which ended last week, revealed 17 lawmakers had a total of 28 zero attendance records on the 18 Legco panels, with most of them quitting after the first meeting when chairmen and vice-chairmen were elected.
Records show that over the past 20 years only a handful of lawmakers had zero attendance rates on panels, which monitor policy issues.
However the attendance records did not include those of six lawmakers disqualified for their behaviour when being sworn in. The Legislative Council Secretariat said their data would be released later.
Of the 64 remaining lawmakers, more than 20 joined every panel at the beginning but only Eddie Chu Hoi-dick did not quit any of them halfway.
Beijing-friendly lawmaker Wong Kwok-kin and pan-democrat Claudia Mo Man-ching topped the no-show list with each failing to attend meetings of four of the panels they joined. Next came pro-Beijing lawmaker Priscilla Leung Mei-fun who went missing on three panels.
The three quit the panels involved within one or two months. Wong and Mo joined 16 and 18 panels respectively, with the former leaving eight and the latter 10.
In the battle for chairmanships, the pan-democrat camp, ended up with six, four more than the previous year, but the pro-Beijing camp kept the key slots.
Wong admitted the situation was not ideal as each lawmaker normally joined about five panels, allowing them to focus on policy areas they were familiar with.
The Federation of Trade Unions lawmaker described the situation where lawmakers joined an average of seven to 10 panels as “meaningless” and not in the public interest.
He said his camp had assigned him to some of the panels, including those with issues he was not familiar, and he could not recall those he had registered with.
Mo admitted that while the pan-democrats adopted the same strategy, “there was no way to take care of so many meetings”.
Meanwhile, the attendance rates at meetings of the full council and Finance Committee had largely improved.
Newcomer Kenneth Lau Ip-keung, chairman of rural body the Heung Yee Kuk, had the worst record with only 32 per cent attendance on the Finance Committee.
“I value quality over quantity,” Lau told the Post.
His father, Lau Wong-fat, who died on Sunday, also had a poor attendance record.
Another two men on the poor attendance chart came from functional constituencies.
They were Dennis Kwok Wing-hang, from the legal sector, and Kenneth Leung, from the accountancy sector, with attendances of 46 per cent and 54 per cent respectively.
The most reliable lawmaker on the Finance Committee was Raymond Chan Chi-chuen of People Power, who beat chairman Chan Kin-por with a 100 per cent attendance.
Chan missed one meeting which was then chaired by his deputy.
Attendances for full council meetings were all over 85 per cent, with Kenneth Lau again turning up the fewest times.