MY TAKE
My Take
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Attention pan-dems: don’t cut off your noses to spite your faces

The opposition camp’s threats to the education funding bill in their pique at the disqualification of some of their members will just end up hurting them at the ballot box

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 19 July, 2017, 1:29am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 19 July, 2017, 1:29am

Blind opposition and mindless theatrics have brought pan-democrats and localist radicals to a sorry state at the Legislative Council. They have lost the plot following the High Court’s shock judgment last week, which disqualified four of their own who had failed to swear their oaths of office properly.

In retaliation, they are threatening to scuttle an education funding bill worth HK$3.6 billion a year that practically everyone supports, including their own constituencies. Several clichés come to mind, such as biting the hand that feeds you, and cutting off your nose to spite your face.

Having forced the cancellation of two Finance Committee meetings at Legco already, the pan-dems have one more chance to approve the bill today before the summer recess. Yet, at the last minute, they are attaching new conditions and demands.

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These include expanding the scope of coverage of a new subsidy worth HK$30,000 a year, currently budgeted for secondary school graduates who enrol in private tertiary schools that run expensive self-financing degree programmes.

I am all for extending the new subsidy to students who take self-financed courses at public universities. But this can be done in the next round of legislation.

Opposition lawmakers also want to link their support for the bill to by-elections. They want two rounds – rather than a single round – for the four who were disqualified last week and for the two Youngspiration members who were booted out last year.

This linkage, completely unrelated to education, gives the game away: lay the blame on the new administration of Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor if the education subsidy bill fails to pass. But it’s clear their anger stems from the court judgment over the four lawmakers’ disqualification, so they are taking it out on the education bill.

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Their attempt is so transparent even a child can see through it. My advice is, don’t do it, please. You will just make it worse for yourselves. The funding will help schools to hire full-time primary and secondary teachers, and professionals in special needs education and information technology.

If you want to go after the government, by all means. But let’s not shoot innocent bystanders and cause more collateral damage. Doing that will lose you more public sympathy, and that’s something you will need when you field by-election candidates, hopefully to regain those lost seats.