Legco must put its house in order

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 11 July, 2015, 1:18am
UPDATED : Saturday, 11 July, 2015, 1:18am

There is no worse way to wrap up the Legislative Council session than with more chaos. The chamber descended into a circus on Thursday when the chief executive showed up for his last question time before the summer break. Lawmakers traded insults, interjected across the floor, disrupted proceedings, and challenged the president, turning the televised meeting into such a farce that president Tsang Yok-sing lost his temper. Raising his voice, a stern-faced Tsang lamented: "Haven't you acted enough in front of TV cameras?"

The public has had enough of such farce. It's a shame that disrupting the chief executive's question-and-answer session has become the norm rather than exception in recent years. The scripted theatrics no longer attracts prominent media coverage, but it adds to the impression that Legco is more an arena for pointless bickering rather than doing real business. This is not helped by the rival camp being increasingly provoked by the stunts; and they worsened the situation by pushing Tsang for stricter enforcement of the rules.

The ugly scenes do nothing to restore confidence in the legislature, whose image has been undermined by negative publicity over filibustering, poor attendance and other political mishaps. Just a month ago, pro-government lawmakers made international headlines with a botched walkout during the electoral reform vote, leaving the government's package defeated with embarrassingly low support. The fiasco escalated when members' exchange in a group chat on mobile phones was subsequently leaked and reported by the media.

It would be hardly surprising if public dissatisfaction surges further in the wake of recent developments. This is partly due to the tense relationship between the executive branch and the legislature. The chief executive fuelled the tension with the pan-democrats when he denied there was any problem between the two branches. He portrays the problem as one inherent within the system, with the pan-democrats taking on whoever is in power as the main enemy. The chief executive may be half right. The truth is that he has yet to command solid support from the pro-government camp, which represents different interest groups. The tension is expected to increase in the run up to the Legco election next year. The need for Legco to put its house in order is obvious. Only through a harmonious working relationship can the government and the legislature win confidence and support from the public.