New People's Party leader Regina Ip Lau Suk-yee has made a U-turn on her call for Ng Leung-sing to step down as chairman of the Legislative Council's Finance Committee.
The pro-Beijing lawmaker raised eyebrows at last Friday's meeting, when she urged her pro-establishment ally, who faced accusations that he ignored rules and procedures, to bow out. She suggested Ng's deputy, Democratic Party chairwoman Emily Lau Wai-hing, take over.
Yesterday, however, Ip announced an about-turn after a meeting with Ng and other Beijing-loyalists to plan Friday's Finance Committee meeting.
It will be the seventh time lawmakers have discussed the government's controversial HK$340 million funding request for engineering works linked to the new-town development plan in the northeastern New Territories.
The meetings have seen hundreds of affected villagers and campaigners gather in protest at the Legco building, with violent scenes on June 6 amid attempts to storm the building.
"No matter who chairs the finance meeting, it would not ensure the development plan … would be passed," Ip said yesterday. She added there was no need for Ng to step down, noting Legco would soon adjourn for summer.
She praised Ng for seeking advice from the Legco Secretariat and its legal consultants ahead of the next meeting and accused the pan-democrats of disrupting proceedings. "Some colleagues have kept disturbing him, just like students challenging their teachers," she said.
Pro-establishment lawmaker Wong Kwok-kin, of the Federation of Trade Unions, said he totally understood why Ip had acted "impulsively" last Friday. "I almost suffered from high blood pressure in the last meeting too," he joked, admitting that many Beijing-loyalists agreed that Ng had "room for improvement".
But he said that changing the committee chairman would not stop pan-democrats from opposing the development plan.
People Power lawmaker Raymond Chan Chi-chuen said Ip may have changed her mind on the advice of the government. "It appears the government wants to protect [Ng]," Chan said.