My Take

Hong Kong lawmakers miss key opportunity for legal debate

PUBLISHED : Monday, 09 November, 2015, 1:22am
UPDATED : Monday, 09 November, 2015, 1:22am

Most people would consider the anti-bribery ordinance a rather important piece of legislation, especially given our current political climate.

And the amendments that were put before lawmakers last week are especially pertinent.

One proposed key change is whether to include the chief executive under its ambit. Strangely, fewer than half of our 70 Legislative Council members bothered to show up for the presentation by Chief Secretary Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor. Pro-establishment lawmakers were as guilty of absenteeism as the pan-democrats.

This enabled the League of Social Democrats' "Long Hair" Leung Kwok-hung and People Power duo Albert Chan Wai-yip and Raymond Chan Chi-chuen to repeatedly call for headcounts over two days.

As only 22 pro-establishment lawmakers and 12 pan-democrats eventually showed up, the meeting failed to meet the quorum and had to be suspended. Even Legco President Jasper Tsang Yok-sing, who may be expected to set an example for diligent attendance, was missing.

Those three Legco disrupters extraordinaire are wasting public time and money. They made no bones about it being just tit-for-tat revenge for the earlier manoeuvres of Finance Committee chairman Chan Kin-por to block pan-democrats' filibustering against setting up an innovation and technology bureau.

But Chan Kin-por's counter-criticism was also off the mark. "Why are we spending so much money on Legco for him to vent his emotions?" he said. "Why don't we dismiss Legco?"

Humm, Mr Chan, if a few more of your friends had bothered to show up, the quorum would have been met. So their absence was a gift to people like Leung.

At the moment, the chief executive does seem to be above some laws. The anti-bribery ordinance is one example. The fact that one of our former chief executives is now before court charged with misconduct in public office means the matter is especially urgent. Pan-democrats have made it their cause to include the chief executive under the ordinance.

The debate would have offered another opportunity to press their case and argue against Lam. But half the members of Legco had more important things to do than the people's business.