Legislative Council elections 2016

It’s time to rebuild trust and cooperation in the Legislative Council

Disruptive tactics like filibustering has becoming the norm rather than exception in Legco. Now that the new legislature has been returned, it is important for lawmakers and government officials to work closer together

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 11 September, 2016, 12:06am
UPDATED : Sunday, 11 September, 2016, 12:06am

The Legislative Council’s relations with the government in recent years has been anything but good. Growing distrust between the pan-democrats and the chief executive has seen cooperation replaced by confrontation and contempt. Disruptive tactics like filibustering and quorum counts to stall the council’s business is becoming the norm rather than exception. A breakthrough in the strained relations is badly needed. Now that the new legislature has been returned, it is important for our lawmakers and government officials to work closer together.

Commenting on the Legco electoral outcome for the first time on Tuesday, Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying pledged to engage the new members, particularly the 26 new faces from across the political spectrum. He said he would meet them in small groups, adding that arrangements for all lawmakers to visit the mainland would be made. Some ministers have also reached out to individual lawmakers-elect in the hope of strengthening ties before the new term begins in mid-October.

Hong Kong’s lawmakers must connect with the people who voted them in

But if the gestures by Leung and his team are meant to be an olive branch, it has not been well received apparently. While the need of dialogue with the government has not been ruled out by some lawmakers-elect, the responses have been lukewarm. They also criticised Leung for trying to play down the victory of the opposition camp.

It is factually correct for Leung to say that some candidates standing on the so-called ABC (anyone but CY) platform did not make it. But the fact is that many critical of his governance over the past four years have won with strong public support. With the opposition camp taking no fewer than 29 of the 70 seats, the challenges for the present and the next government is evident.

Adding to the uncertainties are the six youngsters advocating for localism or self-determination for the city’s future. Having participated in the Occupy protests and other social movements, the activists are known for their defiance against norms and rules. Some have already vowed to resort to filibustering or other radical actions in Legco if necessary. It would be worrying if the tension escalates further.

That the two branches have not got off to a promising start is disappointing. The deepening political divide means there probably won’t be any honeymoon period ahead. But the city’s governance cannot afford to be bogged down by incessant political bickering. If there is any common agenda to pursue in the new Legco, it will be rebuilding cooperation and trust.