Lau's Legco election reform bid quashed

AN attempt by liberal legislator Emily Lau Wai-hing to seek a fully directly-elected Legislative Council was ruled out of order yesterday.

Council president John Swaine said her amendment to the second part of the bill on Governor Chris Patten's electoral reforms was irrelevant to the subject matter.

Ms Lau said she respected the ruling, but would introduce a private member's bill seeking the same objective.

''I think my amendment was relevant because after all we are talking about elections,'' she said. ''Maybe the changes I am proposing would be a bit drastic, but I am not proposing amendments on education or on the airport.

''But I think I am practical enough to recognise that there is no way the president would change his mind, although he may wish to offer some fuller explanations.'' Ms Lau said she would forward her three-page private member's draft bill tomorrow to the Legal Department's law draftsman and then seek to introduce it to the council.

She would not say what amendments she would vote for if her bill was defeated. She would discuss it with her ''Full Democracy '95'' colleagues on Monday.

The United Democrats will put their proposed amendment to Mr Swaine for a ruling in the next two days.

They want to increase the number of directly elected seats from 20 to 30 by replacing the 10 seats to be chosen by the election committee with direct elections.

They also propose abolishing the Urban Council, Regional Council and Heung Yee Kuk as functional constituency seats and replacing them with three new groups representing the retired, housewives and students.

If the United Democrat amendment is ruled out of order, they will move the proposals through a private member's bill.

The party said the bottom line on the 1995 electoral arrangements was Mr Patten's 1992 proposal expanding the number of voters in the functional constituencies to more than 2.5 million.

When they met the Governor yesterday, they also pressed him to set up a human rights commission and to allow the Legal Aid Department to become independent.

Mr Patten was noncommittal, they said, and agreed to consider their views.

The Liberal Party's James Tien Pei-chun yesterday said a survey of his functional constituency - the Hong Kong Federation of Industry - showed an overwhelming majority of the 171 respondents supported last year's compromise electoral model, in which the number of functional constituency voters was substantially cut.