Though there are less than two weeks left before his time comes to an end as Hong Kong’s leader, Leung Chun-ying is still working aggressively to press ahead with some of his policy initiatives.
Among them is a proposal to scrap the so-called offsetting mechanism of the Mandatory Provident Fund (MPF) scheme, an election promise made by Leung during his election campaign back in 2012.
However, the outgoing chief executive’s “must-win” mentality in pushing his plan through the Executive Council (Exco) is said to have caused quite a lot of anger among the business sector, which has criticized Leung for pressing ahead with the plan before representatives from the labor and business sectors in the Labor Advisory Board (LAB) have reached a consensus over the issue.
Business leaders have pointed out that under the existing mechanism that has been in place for years, all labor issues are supposed to be discussed within the LAB first, and won’t be tabled to Exco for final decision until members of the LAB have reached a consensus on the issues.
As Leung is bypassing the LAB now, it has wrecked the long-standing mechanism and also set a very bad precedent, they complained.
Besides, members in the business sector are also dismayed at the fact that the Leung administration has been misleading the public by reiterating that discussions about the proposal have already been underway for a long time, which, according to the business leaders, is completely untrue.
For example, they pointed out that a suggestion that the abolition should have no retrospective effect was only proposed by Leung less than a year ago, not to mention the decision to scrap it step-by-step. They argued that Leung should not press ahead with his proposal unilaterally before both the labor and business sectors have found common ground on the issue.
However, despite the discontent and opposition, it appears Leung is determined to table his proposal to Exco and secure its passage through it, even a rough one.
Since Leung is currently on vacation, it is believed the Exco meeting today, which is to be chaired by Chief Secretary Matthew Cheung Kin-chung, is unlikely to decide on the issue.
As such, it is believed that the panel won’t make a final decision on the proposal until next Tuesday when Leung is going to chair his last Exco meeting. The chief executive can even call extra meetings to discuss the matter if Exco members are unable to agree on the proposal next Tuesday.
Yet, as some in the political circles have pointed out, since Exco is, in constitutional terms, only an advisory body to the CE, it has over the years rarely put policy initiatives or proposals put forward by the government to the vote. All it does is advise the CE on particular issues.
Therefore, even if the majority of Exco members are against the government’s plan, Leung still has the final word.
This article appeared in the Hong Kong Economic Journal on June 19
Translation by Alan Lee with additional reporting
[Chinese version 中文版]
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