Chief Executive Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor has said the official opening ceremony for the Guangzhou-Shenzhen-Hong Kong Express Rail Link (XRL) will take place on the morning of Sept. 22, a day before the cross-border service enters service.
It is said that the government is finalizing the list of guests at the ceremony, which would include the chief executive herself and other Hong Kong government officials, Guangdong provincial governor Ma Xingrui, senior officials of the mainland transportation, quarantine and customs authorities, some Legislative Council members and Hong Kong representatives to the National People’s Congress.
However, according to sources, the government is having second thoughts about inviting all Legco members to the ceremony, as the venue for hosting the ceremony is not that large.
Given that, there is a grave concern within the government that the pan-democrats, if allowed to attend the ceremony, might stage protests inside the venue and ruin the occasion.
As such, it is believed that the government would only invite the chairpersons and deputy chairpersons of relevant Legco panels and subcommittees to the ceremony, including Michael Tien Puk-sun, the incumbent chairman of the Legco subcommittee on matters relating to railways.
As to whether these “privileged few” would include the pan-dems, who have been campaigning against the “co-location arrangement” for the rail link since day 1, and who haven’t softened their stance on the issue even after the passage of the bill, we’ll probably be able to find out very soon.
What happened at the Fourth Plenary Session of the Hong Kong/Shanghai Economic and Trade Co-operation Conference held in our city last month is noteworthy. Lam had invited a number of chairpersons and deputy chairpersons of Legco panels, including four moderate pan-dems, to attend its luncheon. Three pan-dems representing the Professional Commons did attend the luncheon, during which the trio took pictures with Shanghai mayor Ying Yong.
Some government officials have referred to the atmosphere at the luncheon as warm and friendly.
While the government would like to replicate that same friendly atmosphere at the upcoming ceremony at the West Kowloon terminus, it is also perfectly aware that things are totally different this time, as the co-location arrangement is such a highly controversial and inflammatory issue.
And that explains why government officials are having such a deep concern about whether it is worth the risk inviting the pan-dems to the ceremony.
This article appeared in the Hong Kong Economic Journal on Sept 7
Translation by Alan Lee
[Chinese version 中文版]
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