Hong Kong medical reform bill drags on Legislative Council backlog

Lawmakers running out of time to pass anything this term, as doctors’ anger slows down debate

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 13 July, 2016, 9:56pm
UPDATED : Wednesday, 13 July, 2016, 10:38pm

With only two days left of this legislature, the controversial proposal to reform the medical watchdog failed again to make any headway in the Legislative Council, leaving two other bills behind it very likely to be shelved.

Many lawmakers believed the bills would not pass in time as more joined the filibuster of the government’s proposal to revamp the Medical Council.

They urged the government to halt the controversial proposal on the body that licenses and disciplines doctors and allow other bills to pass.

Patients’ groups and lawmakers ask doctors to quit stall tactics as quorum bell keeps ringing

“If it was so unfortunate that the two bills were blown, the government should bear the biggest responsibility,” said medical sector lawmaker Dr Leung Ka-lau, who stalled by making quorum calls throughout the meeting.

The government has proposed adding four appointed lay members into the council, making a total of eight, expanding the council from 28 to 32 people.

And two appointed seats would be changed into elected positions – to be voted by the 26 board members from the specialists’ training school Academy of Medicine.

But doctors’ groups criticised the two elected seats. They fear the government would control the council, undermine its independence, or even allow substandard foreign or mainland doctors to work in Hong Kong.

Lam can’t get pan-democrats’ support on health watchdog reform

On Wednesday Leung raised a motion to form a special committee to handle the bill, which would effectively halt the debate and allow the passage of the other bills, on columbaria and fire services.

But health minister Dr Ko Wing-man refused to make concessions, stressing the doctors’ concern was unnecessary.

Lawmakers from the Civic Party and Labour Party said the government was being “arrogant” and that refusing to make concessions would deepen doctors’ mistrust towards the administration.