In recent weeks, the Legco bills committee on the Guangzhou-Shenzhen-Hong Kong Express Rail Link (XRL) (Co-location) Bill has been working at full throttle in scrutinizing the bill so as to allow the railway line to come into service in the third quarter of this year as scheduled.
Secretary for Transport and Housing Frank Chan Fan and committee chairperson Regina Ip Lau Suk-yee are working alongside each other to make sure nothing goes wrong with this crucial piece of legislation.
However, as some pro-establishment lawmakers have told reporters in private, while they are pretty impressed with the performance of Secretary Chan in dealing with the opposition, they have serious reservations about the way Regina Ip chairs the meetings.
As far as Secretary Chan is concerned, some in the pro-Beijing camp have held him in high regard.
It is because, they pointed out, Chan’s ingenious and nearly “thuggish” tactic has successfully put the pan-democrats in their place during the meetings and prevented the scrutiny process of the bill from being deliberately stalled by the pan-dems.
They have cited one example of Chan’s “thuggish” tactic:
During the public hearings held by the bills committee last Saturday, Chan was grilled by the pan-dems over whether the government was attempting to downplay the gravity of an accident that took place earlier on during the trial runs of the XRL by trickily referring to the derailment of a train as “a deviation from the tracks.”
Chan’s witty answer was that he avoided using “derailment” to refer to the accident because the word itself, in Chinese, connotes “having an affair with someone”, a reply that immediately rendered the pan-dems speechless.
In contrast, pro-establishment members said, Regina Ip, who on Tuesday this week announced that she would cut the speaking time of each member down to just three minutes in order to expedite the scrutiny process, has failed to live up to their expectations when it comes to chairing the meetings.
They pointed out that Ip, a former security chief and a lawmaker with substantial political experience, has been unable to set the tone for the meetings and get her priorities right.
Worse still, she would often relent when confronted by the pan-dems, but would, on numerous occasions, unnecessarily adopt a tough stance on minor issues, thereby taking a considerable toll on the progress of the bill scrutiny process.
As such, some pro-establishment lawmakers in the bills committee have questioned her leadership, and doubted whether she has the necessary experience and ability to chair Legco meetings efficiently even though she is a seasoned lawmaker in her own right.
This article appeared in the Hong Kong Economic Journal on April 9
Translation by Alan Lee
[Chinese version 中文版]
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