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Monday, October 3, 2016, 01:42

Regina Ip warns of ‘chaotic, confrontational’ LegCo

By Joseph Li
Regina Ip warns of ‘chaotic, confrontational’ LegCo

New People’s Party chief Regina Ip Lau Suk-yee (center) and party supporters were all geared up for victory on polling during last month’s Legislative Council elections. The veteran lawmaker was reelected by securing the largest number of votes in the Hong Kong Island geographical constituency. (Parker Zheng / China Daily)

HONG KONG - New People’s Party (NPP) Chairperson and veteran legislator Regina Ip Lau Suk-yee has warned that the new legislature might not be able to function properly and effectively with the election of 26 new lawmakers, including several who have been actively advocating “self-determination” or even “independence” for Hong Kong.

In an interview with China Daily, she said the new chamber could see “chaos and confrontation”, noting that some of the young radicals who had played prominent roles in the 2014 “Occupy Central” protests will be in the Legislative Council which begins its new term on Oct 12.

Ip expressed concern that future LegCo meetings would be out of control as many of the new faces have vowed to fight and defy the rules. And, if they continue to abuse the quorum rule, which dragged down the Medical Registration (Amendment) Bill in July, to obstruct bills or part of the bills they don’t like, the government will find it very hard to pass anything.

“The new legislative term might become very chaotic and confrontational as some of the newcomers might practice the ‘no leader’ style that was prevalent in the later part of the ‘Occupy’ protests. Some people have suggested that a strong LegCo president is needed to handle the situation. But, even a strong president may not be able to deal with all the troubles,” Ip said.

In her view, the new lawmakers will create a lot of drama and trouble in the new legislature, starting with the oath-taking ceremony on Oct 12.

But she advised the government and the pro-establishment camp to avoid a head-on clash with the young radicals.

“We need to maintain rational dialogue with the newcomers and establish a more cooperative relationship. We’ll also help them adapt to the parliamentary culture and understand the importance of enforcing basic ground rules to facilitate civilized debates.

“We need to communicate with them and deal with the fundamental problems if some people are unsatisfied with or misunderstand the current systems by making more narrations on the design of ‘One Country, Two Systems’ and the powers of the central authorities,” she said.

Citing a recent debate with new lawmaker Nathan Law Kwun-chung and the Civic Party’s Alan Leong Kah-kit, Ip said while Law put all the blame on the systems, Leong accused the central government of intervening in Hong Kong’s autonomy.

“Leong wrongly said the central authorities should only handle defense and foreign affairs. (Retiring LegCo President) Jasper Tsang has pointed out that, under the Basic Law, there are 17 areas of Hong Kong affairs that are within the authority of the central government, including appointing the Chief Executive and principal officials, and political reform,” Ip pointed out.

“I told Leong that universal suffrage is enshrined in the Basic Law, whereas the Sino-British Joint Declaration makes no mention of this at all. I guess he knows, but he pretends he doesn’t know,” she added.

Ip, who was re-elected with the highest number of votes (60,760) in the Hong Kong Island geographical constituency in last month’s LegCo elections, said she came top at 40 of the 80 polling stations.

“While most of the parents voted for me, their (grown-up) children voted for Nathan Law, a student activist who started the illegal ‘Occupy’ protests. He managed to snatch many of the votes in Central and Western District, which is near the University of Hong Kong campus, because student quarters had been used as addresses for voter registration. He also grabbed votes from the Democratic Party and Cyd Ho Sau-lan (from the Labour Party) who lost her seat,” Ip said.

“After the 79-day ‘Occupy’ campaign, it was inevitable that student activists would emerge and get elected due to the increase in the number of young voters. However, I got more votes than Law (with 50,818 votes), showing that more Hong Kong Island residents, who had suffered immensely due to the blockaded streets, are against the illegal occupation.”

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