Chief Executive Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor said the government has not ruled out the possibility of going ahead with the co-location plan for the Express Rail Link without support from the Legislative Council.
Lam said the government may trigger the “three-step process” simultaneously if filibustering against the Legco deliberations continues, the Hong Kong Economic Journal reports.
The first step is reaching a cooperation arrangement between Hong Kong and Beijing, which has been completed. The second is getting approval and endorsement from the Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress, which is set to happen in December. And the third step is for both sides to implement the arrangement according to their respective procedures.
Legco will legislate the law related to the plan, which the government expects by July next year before the express rail begins operations later that year as scheduled.
The government submitted a non-binding motion to Legco on Wednesday to highlight the benefits of the plan through debates. Lam cited earlier surveys showing more than half of the respondents support the co-location plan.
But the motion was stalled after the democrats’ filibustering by citing Legco’s rules of procedure. Lam called it “very disappointing and regretful”, saying it deviated from the chamber’s decades-long tradition.
Lam said moving the non-binding motion was done out of respect to Legco, adding she will have no choice but to take appropriate countermeasures if such respect and trust are abused and society is damaged.
“The government will not just sit back and watch the situation but have to respond in a responsible way,” Lam said.
Although she admitted debates on the plan will take time, she said she will not allow any procrastination from filibustering by some lawmakers.
On Thursday, Lam told a forum that she was worried about continuing internal frictions and disputes in Hong Kong. She called on people to work together to make the political atmosphere rational and objective.
Lawmaker Claudia Mo Man-ching from HK First said the co-location plan, under which China will rent part of the West Kowloon terminus where mainland officers will enjoy full criminal jurisdiction on trains and platforms, as well as operate the border clearance zone, is tantamount to ceding the city’s land. The government has never conducted public consultation on the matter as promised.
In response to Lam’s remarks, lawmaker Charles Mok Nai-kwong, convenor of pan-democrats, said it is clear the government wants to use the Legco deliberations to create “fake public consensus”.
He said such practice exposes an unjust system since the non-binding motion is sure to pass, with the support of pro-Beijing lawmakers who hold a majority of the seats in Legco.
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