The summer break of the Legislative Council is drawing to a close. And with our lawmakers going back to work on Oct. 10, the legislature is set to witness a new round of competition for the chairmanship and deputy chairmanship of the various panels and committees between the pro-establishment and pan-democratic camps.
There has been talk that the pro-Beijing camp is considering breaking the initial agreement with the pan-dems, which would allow Dennis Kwok Wing-hang of the Civic Party to succeed Priscilla Leung Mei-fun of the Business and Professionals Alliance for Hong Kong (BPAHK) as the new chairman of the Legco Panel on Administration of Justice and Legal Services.
In other words, it is likely that Leung would continue to serve as the panel’s chair until 2020.
As to why the pro-establishment bloc is thinking of reneging on the agreement, it is said that Legco is going to deal with quite a number of controversial legal issues and as such, hanging on to the chairmanship of the legal panel would definitely work in the camp’s favor.
According to a consensus reached between leaders of the two camps back in 2016, they would take turns in serving as chairpersons of a number of specific Legco panels, so that members of both sides would have an equal chance of chairing these panels for two years.
But two years on, the pro-Beijing camp appears to be having second thoughts about sticking to that deal. Several members of the bloc said that, in particular, it is now leaning towards letting Leung serve another two years rather than allowing Kwok to take her place according to the initial arrangement.
They said they expect a strong backlash from the pan-dems once their decision to overturn the consensus is sealed.
With regard to the Finance Committee, which scrutinizes and approves public expenditure proposals submitted by the government, pro-Beijing lawmaker Chan Kin-por, who represents the functional constituency of insurance, will almost for certain get re-elected as chairman. Ronick Chan Chun-ying of the functional constituency of finance, who is supported by the pro-establishment camp, is likely to succeed Michael Tien Puk-sun, who has made it clear that he won’t seek re-election as deputy chairman.
When asked whether he knows about plans by the pro-Beijing camp to overturn the 2016 agreement and thwart his bid to succeed Leung, Kwok told us on Tuesday night that he hasn’t heard of it at all.
He said that if the pro-establishment camp was really going back on its word, it would be very hard for the two camps to continue talking with each other in the days ahead – there would be no point in such a useless exercise.
This article appeared in the Hong Kong Economic Journal on Oct 3
Translation by Alan Lee with additional reporting
[Chinese version 中文版]
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