Differences must be put aside

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 27 June, 2015, 1:11am
UPDATED : Saturday, 27 June, 2015, 1:11am

The question of who is to blame is still lingering after a botched walkout by pro-establishment lawmakers left the government's electoral reform package rejected with embarrassingly low support in the legislature. But thankfully, efforts to rebuild Hong Kong are under way.

In a positive step to improve working relations with the legislature, Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying is initiating a series of meetings with political parties to enhance cooperation. He discussed a wide range of economic issues with the Liberal Party yesterday. But the Civic Party earlier turned down Leung's appointment, saying it was too short notice. Meetings with other parties are to follow.

That Leung is swiftly reaching out to parties from across the spectrum is to be commended. Despite being the head of the government, the top leader is not affiliated with any party and does not command any vote in the legislature. His administration has to lobby support from different parties case by case. Unless he can secure cross-party support, his governance in the remaining years will be difficult.

In another goodwill gesture, Leung has earlier put a batch of livelihood-related funding requests ahead of the one needed for establishing a new IT policy bureau; and appealed to lawmakers to stop filibuster. The Legco Finance Committee yesterday met to scrutinise the proposals.

It is too early to tell whether full cooperation is under way. But it is good that the tension appears to be not as serious as previously envisaged. It shows that the government and lawmakers can work together.

Beijing's Liaison Office in Hong Kong was also echoing the same tone during a gathering with pro-establishment lawmakers. Members were told not to dwell on the voting fiasco and the subsequent leaks of their exchange via WhatsApp. They also learned that lawmakers would be among those invited to attend a military parade-cum-war-memorial in Beijing in September; and to inspect the development opportunities arising from the so-called 'one belt, one road' strategy initiated by the country. The central government can demonstrate its readiness to work closer with different sectors by extending the invitation to pan-democrats.

The need for reconciliation cannot be overstated. The stakeholders should put aside their political differences and work together for the city's long-term interest.