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Global Times

HK residents should see opposition tricks amid legit election: LegCo Finance Committee Chairman

Global Times

By Fan Lingzhi Published: 2020/5/19 0:13:43

The election was completely legitimate, but the opposition remains infatuated with last year's results, Chan Kin-por, Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (SAR) LegCo Finance Committee Chairman, told the Global Times on Monday after the LegCo House Committee chairwoman was elected.

Chan urged HK residents to identify the opposition's tricks and not vote for them as they would create more turmoil.

On Monday, Starry Lee Wai-king, chairperson of the Democratic Alliance for the Betterment and Progress (DAB), was reelected chairwoman of the House Committee of the Legislative Council (LegCo), with Chan presiding over the election meeting.

Lee gained 40 votes, thus ending prolonged filibusters from opposition lawmakers led by Dennis Kwok Wing-hang that have been aimed at obstructing the election since October 2019.

As the election commenced, opposition lawmakers shouted slogans and charged the podium, forcing a suspension due to the disturbance. Chan ordered security to expel the unruly members after his warnings went unnoticed.

According to the LegCo website, the House Committee makes preparations for Council meetings and considers all business matters. One function of the House Committee is to scrutinize bills introduced to the Council and subsidiary legislation tabled at Council meetings or presented to the Council for approval.

Tang Fei, a member of the Council of Chinese Association of Hong Kong and Macao Studies, said that except for the LegCo president, every member is part of the House Committee. "The only difference between the two is whether there is a president of LegCo. This is similar to the relationship between 99 and 100 percent," Tang said.

According to Tang, LegCo has two functions - one is legislation and the other is to approve public expenditure funding applications. The House Committee helps prepare LegCo meetings and assist with legislative tasks. If the House Committee cannot function, the bills will not make it to LegCo for deliberation.

LegCo is backlogged with 14 bills and over 20 subsidiary laws, including the national anthem law, and a bill to extend maternity leave. "If the House Committee cannot work, the LegCo cannot legislate. Then the bills will enter a black hole, which is ridiculous," Chan said.

According to the LegCo system, between the second and third bill readings, the House Committee usually votes. During this session, members can discuss the amendments made during the second reading.

"This is like a rehearsal of the third reading, which shows the importance of the House Committee. It even can be said that people who served as the chairperson of the House Committee is qualified to act as the president of LegCo," Tang said.

Since last October, meetings have been held to vote for the chairman of the House Committee due to obstruction from opposition lawmakers. Spokesperson of the Liaison Office of the Central People's Government in Hong Kong previously criticized Dennis Kwok Wing-hang and other lawmakers for filibustering to obstruct the LegCo's House Committee chairman election, leaving multiple bills related to people's livelihood unaddressed, thus harming Hong Kong residents and violating HKSAR lawmaker responsibilities, the Xinhua News Agency reported.

Chan was appointed by LegCo President Andrew Leung Kwan-yuen to preside over the election meeting according to LegCo's Rules of Procedure.

"Leung said he named me to preside over the election out of consideration that the members of the House Committee are the same as the Finance Committee. Besides, the two committees separately assist the legislature and finance affairs," Chan said.

Another reason was Chan's experience in dealing with opposition lawmakers and handling conflicts incited by them.

When asked why the opposition continues to obstruct the election, Chan said it was because of the national anthem law and about hindering governance abilities. The opposition was concerned that if the government introduced policies benefiting HK residents and helped them address problems, it would win their support. Therefore, they would do everything possible to impede local governance.

Chan said Leung consulted heavyweights in British Constitution and concluded the situation had never happened in the history of LegCo. "In the past, it only took 15 minutes to elect a chairman. Now, no one had been elected after 17 meetings. This shows that the rules have loopholes which cannot address current issues. So, the president can use LegCo's 92 procedure rule, which stipulates that when something is missing in the procedure rules, the president can make the final decision. Therefore, the president decided to usher in a new procedure and assign a member to be responsible for the chairman election," he explained.

Chan said the opposition's criticism is only "a thief shouting 'stop thief.'"

"Kwok claimed to follow the rules of procedure, but in seven months, a chairman hasn't been elected, which paralyzed LegCo. He cheated," Chan said.

Chan said the opposition lawmakers' next move is to prevent the passage of the national anthem law. He predicted that on that day there would be conflict which could increase social instability.

"They [the opposition] have long ignored people's livelihood. I don't think they will succeed because most residents think the passage of the national anthem law is the responsibility and must for HKSAR. Only a small portion of people are against it," Chan explained.

Chan said the opposition has lost their sense of reasoning, and could become more radical while smearing the government to mislead Hong Kong citizens just to win more LegCo seats. Chan urged local citizens to see their true colors.

Tang said the opposition has been preparing for the LegCo election for a long time. During the second reading of the national anthem law, conflicts similar to what happened today could recur.

Given the current situation in Hong Kong, no matter how hard they try to stir trouble, it won't have much of effect. "LegCo will adjourn in July. The time remaining for the opposition to do performance art is running out," Chan said.

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