Perhaps the most unusual thing about the recent visit of a Legco delegation to Guangdong province to inspect the water quality of Zhujiang River is that nothing unusual happened during the trip at all.
Lawmaker “Long Hair” Leung Kwok-hung, against all expectations, “behaved” himself throughout the trip without causing any embarrassment to the Guangdong authorities, say, by demanding the vindication of the June 4 incident or protesting against the “831 Resolution” during the visit as he always did on similar occasions in the past.
In fact, not only did “Long Hair” behave so well; the pan-democrats and pro-establishment members of the delegation also got along quite well and worked together on the same issue (i.e., how to seek a better water supply deal for Hong Kong from the Guangdong authorities), an extremely rare case given the intense partisan confrontations of the two sides in the Legislative Council in recent years.
Legco has remained almost completely dysfunctional ever since its members were sworn into office last October, with meetings often ending up in filibusters, squabbles and even scuffles.
That the pan-democrats and the pro-Beijing camp can’t agree on any issue has rendered the legislature paralyzed.
However, there is still hope, as the two sides finally set aside their political differences and started fulfilling their role as people’s representatives by working together to address some solid issues that concern the real interests of the people of Hong Kong during the recent trip to Guangdong.
In fact, the trip could serve as a breakthrough in facilitating reconciliation in Legco.
And hot on the heels of that trip came another major initiative to mend fences between the pro-establishment camp and the pan-democrats this week.
According to Liberal Party lawmaker Felix Chung Kwok-pan, his proposal to organize a joint dinner meeting across the aisle has received positive response from the pan-democrats.
It is said that leading members of the major pro-establishment and pan-democratic parties have all agreed to attend the event, with the exception of the localist groups.
Even though one should not expect too much from the meeting, and it would be unrealistic to believe the two opposing camps would ditch their partisanship totally and stop quarrelling in Legco meetings in the days ahead, any initiative to hold constructive dialogue between the two sides is still better than nothing.
The eight-party coalition initiated by former Liberal Party chairman James Tien Pei-chun back in 2003 is unlikely to be replicated in the current Legco, given the fragmentation of political parties in the legislature in recent years.
But the fact that the pan-democrats and the pro-Beijing camp are finally willing to sit down to sort out their differences and get down to business is undoubtedly good news for the people of Hong Kong.
This article appeared in the Hong Kong Economic Journal on April 18
Translation by Alan Lee
[Chinese version 中文版]
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