Legislators threaten boycott

Louis Won

SOME legislators have threatened to boycott meetings with Britain's Hong Kong minister Alastair Goodlad, after describing yesterday's talks as a waste of time.

Independent legislator Emily Lau Wai-hing said she was very disappointed that Mr Goodlad did not give concrete answers to the questions asked.

''I don't think the atmosphere was good, and it seems to me that a lot of the council members thought that there was no point attending meetings like this one,'' she said.

''I asked him if he could recall any official of the British Foreign Office being boycotted by a colonial legislature,'' she said. ''And I said if he could not think of anyone, did he want to become the first one.'' When asked if she would boycott meetings held when the minister visited Hong Kong again, Ms Lau said that would depend on whether he would substantially respond to legislators' questions.

''If everybody thinks that there's no point having a meeting, I believe we just need to save our time,'' she said.

United Democrat legislator James To Kun-sun also wondered if legislators would be interested in attending future meetings with Mr Goodlad.

''Mr Goodlad's responses to our questions were not substantial,'' he said. ''He was just saying things which are the universal truth, just like your mother is a woman and your father is a man,'' he said.

''I said I was very disappointed with the answers he gave us and all these answers showed the British Government was inhumane, irresponsible and shameful,'' he said.

United Democrat legislator Martin Lee Chu-ming was also disappointed.

''I asked him why the British had made concessions to narrow the franchise of the functional constituencies. He said the election could still be a fair one after the franchise was narrowed from 2.7 million to 900,000,'' he said.

Meeting Point legislator Fred Li Wah-ming described the atmosphere at the meeting as bad.

''I just don't know how to convince other Meeting Point legislators to come to future meetings with him,'' he said.

Mr Li said the minister sidestepped most of the questions.

''He just gave us a blank exam paper as far as the constitutional reform is concerned,'' he said. ''We asked him if it was feasible to make separate arrangements for different levels of election - his reply was only that he could not reveal what was going on with the talks which are confidential.'' However, Mr Goodlad claimed he found the meeting helpful, and said he had exchanged views with the legislators on various issues.

Only about 10 of the 20 legislators who attended the meeting stayed to have dinner with Mr Goodlad at the Legco building.