Letter To Hong Kong

Letter To Hong Kong

Type:AudioLanguage:EnglishCategories:Current AffairsStatus:On going Description:                                                                
Leaders from Hong Kong's political parties and government departments take their turn to have their say.

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Legco President Andrew Leung 00:09:05 2018-08-12
Dear Grace,

This productive legislative session has finally drawn to a close. It is now the perfect time to reflect and take stock on what we have achieved and where we could have improved, particularly, in the discharge of our powers and functions as a law-making institution of Hong Kong.

I am delighted to see a number of encouraging changes in the Legislative Council ("LegCo") in this session.

Foremost is the improving relationship between the Executive Authorities and the Legislature. Needless to say, a harmonious and interactive relationship is the key to effective governance, as well as Hong Kong’s prosperity and stability. While performing their respective functions under check and balance, Government officials and LegCo Members must demonstrate mutual trust and respect, and work together for the betterment of Hong Kong.

Since the Chief Executive Mrs Carrie LAM took office, she has pledged to enhance communications with LegCo Members across the political spectrum. In addition to the regular Chief Executive's Question and Answer Sessions that are normally held four times a year, Mrs LAM readily accepted my proposal to attend an additional monthly session in a "short question, short answer" format.

In each Question Time which lasted for approximately 30 minutes, we could accommodate questions from around 10 Members. Through this, Mrs Lam was able to respond immediately to their concerns and to act and address the issues promptly, for instance, the delinking of the prices of subsidized housing with the private property market, and the provision of cash withdrawal services in post offices in remote areas. In this LegCo session, Mrs LAM has all in all attended 11 LegCo meetings and has answered a total of 139 questions from Members.

For the first time in the past 9 years, the Council passed the Motion of Thanks after the Chief Executive delivered her Policy Address in October It is the fruit of an improving relationship with the Executive Authorities.

I am also glad to see that Mrs LAM met with Members from different political parties to discuss issues of public concern and the priority of financial proposals for submission to the Finance Committee for deliberation. These efforts have borne constructive results. In this legislative session, LegCo passed a total of 27 bills which is twice the number of bills scrutinized in the previous session. The Finance Committee approved 98 funding proposals involving a total commitment of about $250 billion. This is most encouraging as this is a record high since the Fifth LegCo.

For a very considerable period of time, there have been calls for amendments to the Rules of Procedure of LegCo, but no consensus could be reached among Members. Over the past few years, some Members had deployed various filibuster tactics to delay the proceedings of the Council and the Finance Committee as a means to express disapproval of certain Government policies or to demand for certain causes.

In this legislative session, we have overcome the hurdle and successfully amended the Rules of Procedure. I must stress in no uncertain terms that the whole amendment exercise had gone through the proper procedure and scrutiny process in LegCo. In my view, the amendments as passed have not in any way compromised Members' right to participate in the legislative process nor adversely affected their discharge of functions as LegCo Members. Quite to the contrary, the operation of LegCo as a law-making body has become much more efficient and the work of Members have garnered greater public support.

Amendments to the Rules of Procedure aside, the Council dealt with one of the most controversial bills in this session, the Co-location Bill. The objective of the Bill is to provide for the implementation of the co-location arrangement at the West Kowloon Station of the Express Rail Link. Given the diverse views on the constitutionality and merits of the Bill, some Members had, right from the very beginning, endeavoured to delay or even forestall its scrutiny in the Bills Committee and the Council.

While I fully respect Members' different views on this contentious Bill, as President, I am tasked to discharge the powers and functions as enshrined in the Basic Law and the Rules of Procedure. In handling the proposed amendments to the Bill by a number of Members and deciding the debate arrangement, I had observed rules and practices and made reference to precedents. I attached great importance to balancing Members' right of expressing views on the Bill and ensuring the smooth conduct of the Council business in accordance with the Basic Law and the Rules of Procedure. Given the highly transparent operation of LegCo and that all of my rulings have been uploaded to the LegCo Website, I welcome members of the public to monitor the work and performance of my colleagues and me. Had Members made good use of the meeting time, they should have sufficient time to engage in a meaningful debate. However, some Members who fiercely opposed the bill had time and again resorted to delaying tactics or even physical altercation which had regrettably led to the injuries of a few LegCo Secretariat staff members in the execution of duty. Such incidents must not be taken lightly and I have duly requested the Committee on Rules of Procedure to examine the need to impose new sanctions against Members for misconduct committed during or outside meetings.

I understand that some Members who opposed the passage of the Bill were dissatisfied with my rulings, triggering the moving of the motion on a vote of no confidence in me. Albeit that the Council had, after a full debate, negatived the motion, I listened humbly to every word, be it supportive remarks or criticisms. It was a perfect opportunity for me to reflect on my performance as the President of LegCo thus far and ponder how I may expand on communication with Members in the days ahead.

Looking ahead, the new legislative session will commence on the 10th October with the delivery of the second Policy Address by Mrs LAM. I expect no easy tasks in the coming session and I believe that LegCo will continue to face tough challenges as some contentious legislative proposals such as the anthem law will be introduced into the Council.

In April this year, 32 Members conducted a successful and fruitful duty visit to the Greater Bay Area. I sincerely hope that if suitable opportunity arises, all Members of this Council would participate in a duty visit to the Mainland such as the Yangtze River Delta Economic Zone to better understand the development of our country.

To sustain and excel what this Council had achieved in this session, I appeal to Members to bury the hatchet and work hand in hand to better serve the community we live in and the people we care.

Have a nice summer holiday.