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Monday, September 26, 2016, 00:56

Don’t over-politicize every issue, Lee tells new lawmakers

By Joseph Li
Don’t over-politicize every issue, Lee tells new lawmakers
Legislator Starry Lee Wai-king urges new lawmakers, whose duty will start on Oct 1, to consider Hong Kong people’s livelihood when making decisions. To prepare for the new term, the pro-establishment camp has started liaising with their peers, as well as the opposition camp, to propose candidates for the posts of LegCo president and chairmen of various committees and panels. (Roy Liu / China Daily)
Starry Lee Wai-king -- legislator and chairwoman of Hong Kong’s largest political party -- has urged lawmakers-elect from the non-establishment camp not to over-politicize every issue.

If they oppose everything, including those concerning people’s livelihood, it will not be in the interest of Hong Kong people, and will also bring no good to the non-establishment camp itself, the chief of the Democratic Alliance for the Betterment and Progress of Hong Kong (DAB) warned.

In an interview with China Daily, Lee envisages a whole new situation for the Legislative Council, with a total of 26 new faces, including those from radical localist groups, joining the legislature in the new term, while some traditional “pan-democrats” had lost in the election.

“We have to wait and see,” she said. “It would be over-optimistic if we think the situation will be better than before, but I would not say all the newcomers from the opposition camp will be radical, oppose and filibuster every issue. I’m hopeful and want to communicate with them, but they need to be pragmatic and do their work properly.”

Lee predicts that localist lawmakers will be very radical on political issues, but suggests that they should not be radical all the time, oppose or filibuster every issue because that’s not the way to do their work. Certain livelihood issues, such as retirement protection and land development, are controversial but very important.

“If they oppose and filibuster every bill that the government proposes, that will not bring any good to Hong Kong people and the opposition camp as well,” she stressed.

Lee said the DAB had achieved remarkable results in the LegCo elections, with all the 12 campaign teams winning. The overall number of seats won is one less than last term, but it was because they had adopted a play-safe election strategy in a difficult time.

“The highlight of the election is the smooth transition. Although four party veterans retired, the newcomers got elected to fill their places,” said Lee, who led the party’s first LegCo election after becoming chairwoman in April last year.

However, she regrets that the pro-establishment camp, as a whole, had lost a few seats, saying it would have been good if Wong Kwok-hing and Bill Tang Ka-piu, both from the Hong Kong Federation of Trade Unions, had been re-elected.

To prepare for the new term, Lee and DAB Vice-Chairman Gary Chan Hak-kan have started liaising with the rest of the pro-establishment camp, as well as the opposition camp, to propose candidates for the posts of LegCo president and chairmen of various committees and panels.

And as LegCo President Jasper Tsang Yok-sing retires, the DAB now backs Andrew Leung Kwan-yuen, chairman of Business and Professionals Alliance for Hong Kong, to take the helm for the 2016-20 term, Lee revealed.

“The DAB thinks that Andrew Leung, who was chairman of the House Committee for 2012-16, is a suitable person to be LegCo president, given his experience in the legislature, his familiarity with the Rules of Procedure, and we are confident he will chair the meetings effectively and impartially,” Lee said.

As for House Committee chairman, Lee said she’s interested in the post and is willing to take up the challenge if she gets the backing of fellow lawmakers.

For the Finance Committee, the DAB considers chairman for the 2015-16 session Chan Kin-por from the insurance constituency as a very capable, experienced and committed person for the same post.

As for chairmen and vice-chairmen of the other committees and panels, Lee said they would resume the consultation system, with the pro-establishment camp being open-minded in having non-establishment lawmakers to chair some of the panels.

It was traditional for the two rival camps to decide on the chairmanship of the LegCo committees and panels by consultation.

Yet, in 2014-15 after the outbreak of the illegal “Occupy Central” protests, the opposition broke the agreement and carried out a surprise blitz by signing up all its members for the Establishment Subcommittee and Public Works Subcommittee in the last minute to outnumber the pro-establishment lawmakers and secure the chairmanship for both subcommittees.

That irritated the pro-establishment camp, prompting them to strike back and take control of most of the committees and panels in 2015-16.

On the ongoing Wang Chau development row, Lee thinks that Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying and concerned government officials have openly explained the matter, so there’s no need to pursue it further by resorting to the Legislative Council (Powers and Privileges) Ordinance at this stage.

In her view, the special powers are a “mighty sword” that should only be used when there is no other option. Lawmakers may follow up at panel meetings and ask the government to provide more documents.

“It will be more useful to ask the government to provide a timetable for phases two and three of Wang Chau development and initiate a review on the use of brownfields,” she suggested.

joseph@chinadailyhk.com

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