Date
21 September 2017
Alan Leong says the government's move shows a disregard for the public's welfare. Photo: HKEJ
Alan Leong says the government's move shows a disregard for the public's welfare. Photo: HKEJ

Government withdraws projects in showdown with pan-democrats

Pan-democrats slammed the government for withdrawing 13 projects related to the livelihood of the general public, Apple Daily reported Thursday.

Alan Leong, chairman of the public works subcommittee of the Legislative Council’s finance committee, hit out at the government for disregarding the public’s welfare in a power play.

Last month, pan-democrat lawmakers  gained control of the subcommittee, which vets projects before they go to the Finance Committee for funding approval.

They have vowed to block funding approval for contentious projects in a protest against Beijing’s proposed arrangements for the 2017 chief executive election.

Legislative Councilor Sin Chung-kai from the Democratic Party had proposed rearranging the agenda to put 11 non-controversial items first among the 20 scheduled to be reviewed in the next subcommittee meeting, on Nov. 19.

The 11 projects included the construction of schools, sewage facilities and a sports complex.

Government representatives opposed Sin’s suggestion, stressing that the original order for putting up the expenditure proposals for approval was based on the urgency of the individual projects.

Leong said he had been about to make a ruling as chairman of the subcommittee in a 16-page decision on Wednesday, having consulted other members and legal professionals, the report said.

However, he said, the Financial Services and the Treasury Bureau phoned him on Tuesday, saying the government would withdraw 13 proposals, 11 of which Sin had proposed prioritizing.

Leong asked the government in a letter to provide reasons for the change.

In response, the government said it would be difficult to process all the 20 items in the two-hour meeting on Wednesday next week in view of the slow progress by the subcommittee in recent months.

Leong said the government was trying to exert its authority at the expense of the public’s welfare.

Under the new agenda, the more controversial proposals — such as a reclamation project at Penny Bay, a new boundary control point at Liantang and strategic research for an artificial island between Hong Kong and Lantau islands — will be considered at next week’s meeting.

James Tien of the pro-establishment Liberal Party said it was regrettable to see that the relations between the government and the pan-democrats had deteriorated further. He said the government’s decision was inappropriate.

Tien called for the government to enhance communication with the pan-democrats.

But pro-establishment lawmaker Ip Kwok-him defended the government, saying it was because the pan-democrats had refused to cooperate and deployed filibustering tactics that the government had to make changes.

Ip said the government’s strategy this time was spot on.

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EL/AC/FL

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