A number of opposition lawmakers said recently they wanted to stall the government reorganization plan of Chief Executive-Elect Leung Chun-ying in a fashion similar to how they stalled the Legislative Council (Amendment) Ordinance Bill 2012. Another round of stalling is about to break out.
Back in early May, the opposition camp vowed to block the planned government reorganization plan, which will add two deputy secretaries and two departments. The excuse advanced by the opposition was that there had been insufficient public consultation. For several weeks, Wong Yuk-man and Chan Wai-yip of People Power (PP), an extreme group within the opposition camp, waged a filibuster against the LegCo (Amendment) Ordinance Bill 2012.
Other major opposition groups, such as the Democratic Party and the Civic Party, cooperated with the delaying tactics. Although the filibuster was cut short by LegCo President Jasper Tsang Yok-shing, opposition lawmakers did succeed in delaying the legislative process of that bill. Apparently the opposition camp tasted success and now wants to repeat it against the government reorganization plan.
By stalling the government reorganization plan, the opposition camp aims to embarrass the central government. Their goal is to make the central government unable to appoint principal officials to the next SAR government before July 1 and thus prevent the full SAR government from being sworn in on that day. As a result the next SAR government will not be able to operate normally after July 1, until the new administrative team is fully formed. In a word, they want to paralyze the SAR government as long as they can.
According to press reports, People Power lawmaker Chan said he had a two-phase strategy for the next round of delays. The first phase features multiple bills to add conditions or to amend the government reorganization plan when the LegCo Finance Committee discusses related funding for the new SAR government. He said at the time he had more than a dozen bills in mind already, including a bill demanding free rides for senior citizens and discounts for school children during the debate in the Finance Committee over funding for new transportation initiatives and public works. Chan also plans to introduce a bill to change the wording of the plan, to rename the transportation and public works department as the public works and transportation department and so on.
His brother in arms PP founder Wong Yuk-man, who is chairman of the Panel on Information Technology and Broadcasting, told reporters that he plans to hold an extraordinary meeting of the panel to discuss the proposed new department of telecommunications and science and technology. Meanwhile, Labour Party chief Lee Cheuk-yan said his party will “ask as many questions as possible” and chime in when they find Chan’s and Wong’s queries worth elaborating, and putting forward their own motions, all of which will be absolutely legitimate. In his own words, it will be “an (stalling) extravaganza where everybody will give their all in what they do best.” His pledge has been echoed by the Democratic Party.
Local observers thus concluded that the next round of stalling will be different from the previous round, mainly in that it will be focused on two subcommittees over funding-related issues during panel discussions, instead of on the assembly floor. The two “checkpoints” are the Establishment Subcommittee, chaired by none other than Margaret Ng, a key member of the Civic Party, and the Finance Committee, which is chaired by the Democratic Party’s Emily Lau. Both Ng and Lau have vowed publicly to “go all out” to rip the government reorganization plan to shreds and “hold it up” as long as they can.
It appears the opposition camp is determined to stall the government reorganization plan just because it can do so, by abusing legislative procedure and playing the game of words. It makes no sense whatsoever. They are bent on turning the venerable legislature into their play pen yet again.
The author is a veteran current affairs commentator.