My Take

Hong Kong's pro-establishment parties show their disregard for ordinary people

PUBLISHED : Friday, 23 October, 2015, 1:31am
UPDATED : Friday, 23 October, 2015, 1:31am

Politics is by definition partisan and nasty. So I don't blame the establishment parties for cornering the posts of chair and vice-chair on most committees in the legislature.

In any case, all gloves are off between the pro-government and pan-democratic camps after last year's Occupy protests. However, there is something shameful about the way the government-friendly parities pick and choose committees to take over. It says something about their real priorities - conversely, what they really don't care about - despite public profession to the contrary.

Now I understand why they want to dominate key committees such as finance and the house committee. The finance committee chair has the power to decide when and which government funding proposals are to be scrutinised, with his or her deputy standing in as required. The house committee is responsible for setting the agenda of Legco council meetings. Its chair and his or her deputy meet the chief secretary every week, and may decide whether to allow police to enter the Legco building in an emergency.

This ended a 17 year-old unwritten rule of splitting the chair and deputy chair of the two committees between the pan-democratic and establishment camps.

Of the 20 committees, the pan-democrats were only allowed to secure chairmanship or vice-chairmanship in: education, health care, social welfare, environment, and legal and judicial affairs. These are sectors by which the vast majority of Hong Kong people are most directly affected, but the pro-government/pro-business parties care more about those committees on finance, manpower, economic development, transport and commercial affairs. These are the vested interests they represent, and their choices of chair and vice-chair show.

The Democratic Alliance for the Betterment and Progress of Hong Kong, which sells itself to the city's grass roots, might have been expected to take a more active interest in Legco committees most directly related to livelihood issues. But of these committees, it only bothered to chair one, on the environment.

It's not the bare-knuckled tactics against pan-dems that's troubling. It's their disregard for ordinary people.