Pan-democrats slam liaison office for intervention in free-to-air TV licence saga

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 16 November, 2013, 4:39am
UPDATED : Saturday, 16 November, 2013, 6:20am

Moderate pan-democrats have issued a joint letter to the head of the central government's liaison office protesting against its alleged intervention in Hong Kong affairs, in particular over the television licence saga.

The letter from 23 pan-democrats - excluding four radicals in the camp - was written to liaison office director Zhang Xiaoming, after two pro-Beijing lawmakers revealed they had been approached by the office ahead of the Legislative Council free-to-air television licence investigation vote.

"We seriously condemn liaison officials' blatant intervention in Hong Kong's local affairs," the letter read.

"Their attempts to influence lawmakers' votes on the Legco motion to invoke the special powers have contravened the Basic Law and triggered the public's discontent."

Pro-establishment lawmakers Dr Leung Ka-lau and Paul Tse Wai-chun admitted being approached by the office ahead of the pan-democrats' failed bid on November 6, which wanted to invoke Legco's powers to look into the Executive Council's decision to approve only two television licences, excluding Ricky Wong Wai-kay's Hong Kong Television Network.

Tse withdrew his promised support for an investigation at the last minute.

Civic Party lawmaker Cyd Ho Sau-lan said the Hong Kong government should stop allowing the liaison office to expand its influence in the city.

"Allowing the liaison office to continue its activities amounts to destroying the two systems," said Ho, referring to the "one country, two systems" principle.

While Article 22 of the Basic Law states no department of the Central People's Government "may interfere in the affairs which the [HKSAR] administers on its own", Exco member Fanny Law Fan Chiu-fun has justified the role of the office in defeating the special powers vote as it could "impact the Exco system", which could involve "certain constitutional questions".