Opponents of the government's plan to build a HK$65.2 billion high-speed railway to Guangzhou yesterday forced a lawmaker who supports the project to step down temporarily as chairman of the subcommittee that will decide if the project receives funding - but the move ultimately backfired on them.
Subcommittee vice-chairman Alan Leong Ka-kit, a Civic Party legislator and one of nine lawmakers who oppose the plan, had to step in to replace Raymond Ho Chung-tai as chairman. This effectively nullified Leong's opposing vote, as the chairman can only vote in a tie-breaker.
With 12 of the 23 subcommittee members eligible to vote supporting the project, it is now almost certain that the funding will be approved in today's vote.
Two members, Regina Ip Lau Suk-yee and Leung Ka-lau, have yet to declare their positions.
Ho said he would not vote and stepped down from his position as chairman after James To Kun-sun of the Democratic Party challenged his role as a non-executive director of a company that will be bidding for the project's contracts.
'I have no direct vested interest, but I will stop chairing the meeting anyway for the good image of the Legislative Council,' Ho said.
Independent lawmaker Cyd Ho Sau-lan then demanded that another lawmaker who supports the railway, New Territories landowner Lau Wong-fat, declare whether he and his companies stood to gain from the project. Lau refused.
The remainder of the lawmakers on the sub-committee all declared they had no conflict of interest.
The voting, originally scheduled for yesterday, was postponed to 2.30pm today because lawmakers raised many questions concerning the railway's impact on Tai Kok Tsui residents and the area's redevelopment potential.
Philip Yung Wai-hung, deputy secretary for transport and housing, said the residents could claim losses in relation to redevelopment values a year after the place had been redeveloped, adding that the bureau was happy to provide them with relevant information including the area's port ratio and allowed building density.