More than 40 appropriation requests for improving people’s livelihood now risk being backlogged at the Legislative Council’s Finance Committee after a bid to expedite the approval process failed to gain consensus among its members, the Hong Kong Economic Journal reports.
At a meeting held by the Legco Commission on Thursday, it was proposed that less controversial requests for funding, such as hospital expansion projects and salary increases for civil servants, can be handled by circulating relevant papers to be voted on by members of the finance panel.
Legco president Andrew Leung Kwan-yuen, who is also the commission’s chair, said there will be no council meetings before October as time is needed to repair the complex after it was ravaged by demonstrators and it would be difficult to find a suitable alternative meeting venue.
Supporting the proposal, Democratic Party lawmaker Helena Wong Pik-wan said special measures should be adopted under special circumstances.
Civic Party lawmaker Dennis Kwok Wing-hang also agreed that since no meetings could be held at the damaged Legco building, relevant papers on funding requests could be circulated among panel members instead.
However, Claudia Mo Man-ching, convener of the pan-democrats’ meeting group of lawmakers, strongly opposed the idea, saying allowing funding approvals through document circulation would set a bad precedent.
It would be very dangerous and unacceptable to do so, Mo said.
She said she feared the pro-establishment bloc may use the same method in the future to push for the controversial “Lantau Tomorrow Vision” project.
“Over my dead body,” Mo said of the proposal.
Under the panel’s meeting procedure, such a method of voting can only be adopted if more than half of its members agree to the proposal and no member objects.
Lawmaker Chan Kin-por, who chairs the panel, told media on Thursday night that the proposal is not feasible because more than one person from the pan-democratic camp oppose it.
As such, Chan said, he will not even bother to ask the opinion of the other members.
On Friday morning, Chan stressed that the proposals, whether to find an alternative meeting venue or vote through the circulation of relevant papers, are meant to deal with urgent funding requests.
He asked his colleagues to give the proposals serious thought, instead of engaging in smear tactics.
Meanwhile, the Democratic Party caucus said in a statement that Conference Room No. 2 of the Legco complex remains intact after Monday’s incident and can be used by the finance panel for meetings.
But the Legco Secretariat said that although the room suffers no obvious damage, the electronic voting and announcement systems have not been checked yet, while its sound amplification system, quorum bell and voting bell are not working.
Besides, the whole building has no CCTV for surveillance, it added.
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