Chow Pak-chin

Points out long de­bates and quo­rum calls at LegCo waste tax­pay­ers’ money and re­sources — time to see if anti-es­tab­lish­ment op­poses Le­ung, or op­poses every­thing

China Daily (Hong Kong) - - COMMENT -

Hong Kong peo­ple are now no strangers to fil­i­bus­ter­ing at Leg­isla­tive Coun­cil meet­ings, with the anti-es­tab­lish­ment law­mak­ers’ so­called “non-co­op­er­a­tion cam­paign” against for­mer chief ex­ec­u­tive Le­ung Chun-ying’s ad­min­is­tra­tion ex­ac­er­bat­ing in re­cent years. De­spite the anti-es­tab­lish­ment’s claim of hav­ing the city’s best in­ter­ests in mind, hence the fil­i­buster in de­fense of tax­pay­ers’ money, such os­ten­si­bly gen­er­ous acts have ac­tu­ally been more bane than boon for the public, es­pe­cially when we’re talk­ing about tax­pay­ers’ money.

Per­haps un­known to the anti­estab­lish­ment law­mak­ers and their sup­port­ers, in the midst of their vil­i­fi­ca­tion of the ad­min­is­tra­tion and the mul­ti­ple con­struc­tion projects as “white ele­phants”, the anti-es­tab­lish­ment law­mak­ers’ “non-co­op­er­a­tion cam­paign” cost tax­pay­ers a whop­ping HK$45.6 mil­lion be­tween the 2013-14 and 2015-16 fi­nan­cial years, not least by wast­ing 49.7 hours on the re­quest of quo­rum calls in 2013-14, and 56 hours wasted on the same re­quest in 2014-15, ac­cord­ing to the LegCo Sec­re­tariat. Among the more notorious is the Copy­right (Amend­ment) Bill 2014, which saw the coun­cil spend­ing 96 hours, over eight meet­ings, con­sid­er­ing the bill; among the 96 hours, 38 were wasted on quo­rum calls. To quote law­maker Wong Kwok-hing, fil­i­bus­ter­ing is a colos­sal waste of time and money, and it seems to have be­come a li­cense for the op­po­si­tion camp to waste public money for their own agenda.

And an act of wast­ing public money on anti-es­tab­lish­ment law­mak­ers’ own agenda fil­i­bus­ter­ing is, in­deed. In this day and age where The au­thor is pres­i­dent of Wis­dom Hong Kong, a lo­cal think tank.

Hong Kong cit­i­zens, both young and old, need to be bet­ter equipped with in­for­ma­tion and knowl­edge on in­no­va­tion and tech­nol­ogy, to best uti­lize the In­ter­net of Things and be­come an in­te­gral part of the global trend that cel­e­brates any­thing from e-com­merce to dig­i­tal en­trepreneur­ship, who would have thought the pro­posal by Le­ung to es­tab­lish the In­no­va­tion and Tech­nol­ogy Bureau would suf­fer a three-year de­lay as a re­sult of in­ces­sant, adamant fil­i­bus­ter­ing?

Like­wise, the anti-es­tab­lish­ment law­mak­ers’ re­cent fil­i­buster against the govern­ment’s HK$32 bil­lion Kai Tak Sports Park plan re­veals, for the umpteenth time, the anti-es­tab­lish­ment’s in­con­sis­ten­cies in word and ac­tion, as they pub­li­cize them­selves as the guardians of public in­ter­est, while do­ing every­thing pos­si­ble to sab­o­tage public in­ter­est. What’s mind-bog­gling about this round of fil­i­bus­ter­ing, how­ever, is that when ru­mors had it that the plot of land where the Kai Tak air­port once stood might be used for hous­ing de­vel­op­ment, the op­po­si­tion camp gave the govern­ment a blis­ter­ing put down for its “neg­li­gence of lo­cal sports de­vel­op­ment”. Not long af­ter, Le­ung des­ig­nated the Kai Tak plot for con­struc­tion of the sports com­plex, ex­pected to foster a con­cept that has been hith­erto non-ex­is­tent in Hong Kong — sports de­vel­op­ment. De­spite LegCo ap­proval of the fund­ing re­quest for the sports park, the fate of the park still hinged on the Fi­nance Com­mit­tee’s fi­nal de­ci­sion, which was met with fierce fil­i­buster, as sworn by “Long Hair” Le­ung Kwok-hung. The sad thing about the re­cent spate of fil­i­bus­ter­ing is that we are no longer sur­prised at the anti-es­tab­lish­ment’s an­tics, and for Le­ung’s ad­min­is­tra­tion, it’s “damned if you do, damned if you don’t” all over again. No sur­prise there, re­ally, ex­cept that wasted tax­pay­ers’ money has shot through yet another ceil­ing. But for peo­ple whose liveli­hood and em­ploy­ment op­por­tu­ni­ties could di­rectly ben­e­fit from the govern­ment’s poli­cies and plans, there is only that much fil­i­bus­ter­ing they can take.

On June 23, the con­struc­tion in­dus­try staged a rally in an act to con­demn the op­po­si­tion’s re­lent­less, in­dis­crim­i­nate fil­i­buster, which has re­duced the num­ber of con­struc­tion projects put up for ten­der, there­fore cut con­struc­tion work­ers’ em­ploy­ment rate and given uni­ver­sity stu­dents with a de­gree and knowl­edge in the con­struc­tion in­dus­try bleak prospects. If anti-es­tab­lish­ment law­mak­ers were re­ally the de­fend­ers of public in­ter­est, how is it that the in­ter­ests and liveli­hood of con­struc­tion work­ers and many oth­ers em­ployed in var­i­ous ca­pac­i­ties for the con­struc­tion projects are not taken into ac­count, when they stall ap­proval and de­vel­op­ment progress through ad­journed meet­ings and wasted LegCo meet­ing hours, all of which also trans­late into wasted tax­pay­ers’ money?

The city’s lead­er­ship has changed hands, with Le­ung’s ad­min­is­tra­tion hav­ing been re­placed by one led by Car­rie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor. If the anti-es­tab­lish­ment camp meant what they said, that their an­ti­co­op­er­a­tion cam­paign was staged only against Le­ung, then it is only be­ing rea­son­able for us to ex­pect a fil­i­buster-free LegCo from now on, or is it not?

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