Lam seeks non-binding Legco motion on co-location plan

October 04, 2017 13:02
Chief Executive Carrie Lam wants to highlight the benefits of the co-location plan for the express rail link during a Legco debate on a non-binding motion. Photos: CNSA/Bloomberg

Chief Executive Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor has decided to seek support from the Legislative Council on a co-location plan for the Guangzhou-Shenzhen-Hong Kong Express Rail Link.

Lam said a non-binding motion will be submitted to Legco on Oct. 25 seeking to highlight the benefits of the plan through debates by lawmakers, the Hong Kong Economic Journal reports.   

She cited surveys showing that more than half of Hong Kong people support the co-location plan. Lam said Hong Kong people do not think it violates "one country, two systems" and the Basic Law.

A survey commissioned by Ming Pao and conducted by the Public Opinion Program of the University of Hong Kong in early August showed nearly 53 percent of the respondents back the plan compared with 34 percent who are against it.

Another survey conducted by the Liberal Party in August showed a 60 percent support rate.

"I hope that Legislative Council members will debate this in a rational manner and reflect the opinions of the people of Hong Kong," Lam said.

On July 25, the government announced that it will adopt a three-step plan -- reaching an agreement between Hong Kong and Beijing, which has been completed, gaining approval from the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress and legislating the proposal in Hong Kong.

The committee is expected to approve the plan in December before Legco completes second reading of the related bill in February next year, Lam said.

Now, however, Lam is seeking Lego’s support before the committee approves the plan.

Lam said the government has explained the plan in detail to the public and there have been adequate discussions about it.

Lawmaker Tanya Chan Suk-chong, convenor of Co-location Concern Group, said the co-location proposal violates the Basic Law.

Also, she criticized the government for not explaining the details of how the plan works, adding the group and Civic Party would strongly oppose the plan.

Democratic Party lawmaker James To Kun-sun said Lam wants to skip public consultations and force Legco to accept the plan, citing a similar situation in the controversial Hong Kong Palace Museum project.

To said the Democratic Party will not support the plan because it is a "black-box" deal.

The motion is likely to be passed by Legco, with support from at least half of the legislators needed.

Under the co-location arrangement, customs, immigration and quarantine facilities of Hong Kong and mainland China will be located at the West Kowloon terminus of the express link, which is scheduled to open in the third quarter next year.

The controversial arrangement has raised concern because China will rent part of the terminus where mainland officers will enjoy full criminal jurisdiction on trains and platforms, as well as the border clearance zone.

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