Last week, Financial Secretary Donald Tsang Yam-kuen started a new round of budget consultation with the Legislative Council, soliciting members' views over next year's financial blueprint. What a waste of time, many people may say; in fewer than two months, the incumbent legislature will be dissolved and 27 of the present members are going to go. If the Financial Secretary had nothing to do, he could have considered briefing the provisional legislature on this year's budget, instead of having a non-budget expert, Fanny Law Fan Chiu-fun of the Chief Executive-designate's office, going to Shenzhen to answer provisional legislators' queries. Pragmatists may say that it is a political reality. But as a government, the administration cannot just focus on practicality. No matter how much Beijing disregards the present Legco, it will not change the fact that it enjoys constitutional status in Hong Kong at least until June 30. So it is shocking to hear some of the incumbent legislators, who at the same time serve the provisional legislature, query why the present legislature should still consider and debate bills which they think only affect post-1997 Hong Kong. Let us not forget all of the incumbent legislators were elected by more than a million voters in Hong Kong in 1995. The present Legco's mandate comes from the people and that is why it has the duty to serve this community until its very last day. That is why it is so distressing to learn that in the past four months, the attendance rate of half of the 88 bills committee meetings has been below 60 per cent. Legco's House Committee chairman Leong Che-hung denied that the phenomenon had anything to do with the provisional legislature as, so far, the caretaker body had only held four meetings. Dr Leong may be right. But perhaps it is because of members' attitudes; that they consider the present Legco is getting increasingly irrelevant under the shadow of the provisional body. It is most dangerous that even legislators of the day believe they have no right and obligation under the constitution to carry out their duties now. For instance, it is disturbing to hear pro-China legislator, Ip Kwok-him, querying Governor Chris Patten in Legco over why the administration refused to hand over a copy of the right-of-abode bill to the team of Chief Executive-designate Tung Chee-hwa. As an incumbent legislator, Mr Ip may be irresponsible in suggesting that the immigration bill should be considered by the provisional body instead of the present Legco. If he thinks that the present Legco is so useless, why is he still there? If Mr Ip cares to think twice, he must find it hard convincing himself that, rather than giving the bill to the incumbent legislature which under the present constitution is fully legitimate, the administration should just hand it over to the caretaker assembly - which, until June 30, enjoys no constitutional status. Even under normal circumstances, immigration matters are easily subject to challenges. I wonder whether Mr Ip has thought about what it would be like if an immigration law were passed by a body whose constitutional status is called into question. No matter how difficult the last days of the transitional period are for the present administration, it is still handling the remaining issues seriously and has not allowed political correctness to take precedence over the constitution and laws. This is the virtue of Hong Kong and the community only hopes that our legislators, especially those who also sit on the provisional legislature, adopt a similar attitude. They owe it to their voters to take their present job seriously.