As Hong Kong's lawmakers return from recess, cooperation with executive branch is vital to good governance

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 14 October, 2015, 12:29am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 14 October, 2015, 12:29am

If governance in Hong Kong has become more difficult, the Legislative Council has to bear some responsibility.

With some lawmakers indulging in filibustering and unruly behaviour, the legislature no longer operates as efficiently as it used to. Meanwhile, tension between rival camps remains high, leaving little room for cooperation and compromise.

As Legco resumes today after the summer break, it is imperative for all parties to put aside their differences and work closely together for the good of Hong Kong.

Unfortunately, there are signs of more friction ahead. In a departure from tradition, the pro-establishment camp scooped most of the key panel positions, after failing to compromise with the pan-democrats on who should fill the posts.

READ MORE: Legco chair monopoly: Hong Kong's pro-establishment camp snaps up key posts on Legislative Council committees

The pan-democrats, who feel they are being marginalised, have warned that the antagonistic relationship between the executive and the legislature will worsen.

That Legco has entered the final year of its current term has given further cause for concern. If previous experience is any guide, members are likely to be weighed down by a backlog of bills and funding proposals this year.

As some officials have privately complained, nothing gets done in the run-up to a Legco election, which will be held next September.

The tendency for politicians to whip up election issues mean bureaus and departments will avoid scheduling major bills and funding requests towards the end of the term. That leaves even less time to get down to real business.

But to say that the legislature is the sole obstacle to good governance would be wrong.

Despite political stunts and bickering, lawmakers have managed to pass dozens of laws and funding requests tabled by the government over the past three years. But efficiency is another matter.

It is true that some of the bills and funding proposals were only approved after a painfully slow process. Had the time spent on filibustering and political wrangling been used on improving people's livelihood, a lot more could have been achieved.

Good governance depends on a healthy working relationship between the executive and the legislature.

While the latter is required to provide checks and balances, it is also expected to work efficiently with the administration. Constitutionally, the two branches have different roles and functions. But they share the common goal of making Hong Kong a better place for the people.

Public interest is best served by putting aside differences and working together.