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Thursday, July 14, 2016, 00:22

Vincent Fang calls for passage of medical bill

By Joseph Li
Vincent Fang calls for passage of medical bill

Lawmaker Vincent Fang Kang said if the Medical Registration (Amendment) Bill 2016 is not passed, the image of doctors in the community will be seriously damaged. (Roy Liu / China Daily)

HONG KONG - Liberal Party legislator Vincent Fang Kang called for the passage of the Medical Registration (Amendment) Bill 2016 - as medical constituency lawmaker Leung Ka-lau and opposition lawmakers continued to filibuster the bill on Wednesday.

Fang said this bill and the private columbaria and fire services bills were very important to people’s livelihoods. He said if they are not passed before this week, they will lapse as the current legislative term will expire. The image of doctors in the community will also be seriously damaged, Fang predicted.

In an interview with China Daily, Fang condemned Leung Ka-lau for continuing to abuse the quorum bell.

Fang hopes Legislative Council President Jasper Tsang Yok-sing will end the debate and put the bill to a vote if he finds lawmakers’ speeches becoming repetitive and trivial.

“I hope the president will be brave enough to stop the debate tonight (Wednesday) or tomorrow (Thursday) afternoon, notwithstanding that he could face the challenge of judicial reviews,” he said.

Fang, who was chairman of the relevant bills committee, said the committee had held 10 meetings and hearings to input the opinions of patient groups and family members of patients. Meanwhile, the government has made adjustments to the bill after hearing different opinions.

He disclosed that Leung initially seldom attended committee meetings. And when he did, he did not speak much. He spoke more often during the later stages to repeat his proposal of adding four medical members into the Medical Council of Hong Kong at the same time as the addition of four lay members.

“His proposal did not have the support of the majority of the committee members and most agreed to resume a second reading of the bill,” said Fang.

Then Leung attempted to move 110,000 amendments with a view to filibustering. But these were rejected by the LegCo president.

“Now they are obstructing the medical registration bill and the subsequent private columbaria bill. They are not giving peace to people on earth while the deceased cannot rest in peace,” he said.

Fang reiterated that the addition of four lay members will enhance the transparency of the Medical Council. This will also speed up the investigation of the complaints. The council will be able to open one more preliminary investigation committee to probe medical blunders.

He opposed the proposal of Civic Party’s Kwok Ka-ki, a doctor, to add four medical members. “That will only offset the voices of lay members in the council and is against the global trend of greater transparency,” he said.

Fang also dismissed the claims of some doctors that the bill would allow doctors from the Chinese mainland and Belt and Road countries to practice in Hong Kong without passing the licensing exam.

He said the opposition camp demonized the procedure of “appointment by the Chief Executive” as government manipulation of the Medical Council.

“The members are nominated by medical institutions and the Chief Executive only appoints them as a matter of routine. The nominees are well-known, respected doctors, and it is an insult if people say they are manipulated by the government,” he said.

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