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
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?