Detente destroyed: LegCo Committees turned upside down

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War! Pan-dems break with tradition, bamboozle the pro-establishment camp and seize the Establishment and Public Works Committees! But at what cost?


Long standing tradition sees Legislators choose to sit on one of two Finance sub-committees, Establishment and Public Works. This means that the pro-dem v pro-establishment representation will roughly reflect that of LegCo itself. Otherwise all members would have to sign up for both, creating unnecessary work.
Establishment approves the creation, and funding, of new posts. Public Works approves major capital expenditure. Both are gatekeepers to the Finance Committee, where final funding approval occurs. No money, no progress.

The pan-dems this year broke with tradition. Lee Cheuk-yan submitted the name of every pan-democrat half an hour before the deadline for submission on a Saturday. This meant the pan-dems stacked the sub-committees and could choose the Chair and Deputy Chair, breaking another convention.

Live by the sword, die by the sword. The pro-establishment responded by using their numbers to take the Chair and Deputy Chair of many committees that used to, again by tradition, be split between opposing forces. The breakdown of parliamentary tradition is a serious rift in the political fabric of Hong Kong. Harbour Times will be watching to see if it can be repaired.

What will flow…
The results, change from last year and some notes below. All in all, it looks like Committee chairs are well positioned to give the government what it wants on issues related to business and infrastructure development with key chairs in place who can close debate and block filibusters – except for the two vital sub-committees mentioned above.

Pan-dems also took Welfare Services and Health Services. Given that these are committees for public interests, the pan-dems are unlikely to use their power to block popular government giveaways and public health measures that their base want to see passed.

What won’t go
So look for government policy priorities to go swimmingly until they hit Public Works and Establishment, the legislative speedbumps for 2014/2015.

Committee Chair and Deputy Chairs 2014-2015
1) House Committee – Same Chair and Deputy Chair as last two terms.
Chair: Andrew Leung Kwan-yuen (FC- Industrial 1st)
Deputy Chair: Ronny Tong Ka-wah (GC- New Territories East, Civic Party)

2) Finance Committee – Pro-establishment dominate, Pan-dems lose the DC seat.
Chair: Tommy Cheung Yu-yan (FC- Catering, Liberal Party)- This seat was previously held by Ng Leung-sing (FC-Finance) who came under sustained fire from the pan-dems based on his handling of contentious debate over-funding for new towns in New Territories.
Deputy Chair: Chan Kin-por (FC- Insurance)- Emily Lau Wai-hing (GC- New Territories East, DP), deputy chair of this committee for last two terms, lost her seat.

3) Public Works Subcommittee – Pan-dems take the Chair, dominate.
Chair: Alan Leong (GC – Kowloon East)- This seat is normally taken by the pro-establishment, but the pan-dems coup took the day (see above). The Pro-establishment camp is currently in the process of applying to add more members into the panel. They will most likely succeed, but the chair is already taken. Lo Wai-kwok (FC- Engineering) loses the seat.
Deputy Chair: Wu Chi-wai (GC- Kowloon East, DP) ascends. Leung Che-cheung (GC- New Territories West, DAB) descends.

4) Establishment Subcommittee – Pan-dems establish themselves as king of this castle.
Chair: Kenneth Leung (FC- Accountancy) – Coup Part II, as above. He is promoted from deputy chair of last term. The queen loses her head: Regina Ip (GC- Hong Kong Island, NPP ) is no longer Chair.
Deputy Chair: Sin Chung-kai (GC- Hong Kong Island, DP)

5) Panel on Food Safety and Environmental Hygiene – Pro-establishment cleans up, Pan-dems down in the gutter.
Chair: Tommy Cheung (FC- Catering, Liberal Party), courtier of caterers steps up. Helena Wong ( GC- Kowloon West, DP) is out. Pan-dems food unsafe.
Deputy Chair: Steven Ho (FC- Agriculture and Fisheries, DAB)- He is the incumbent Deputy Chairman.

6) Panel on Environmental Affairs – Green is the new pro-establishment colour.
Chair: Chan Hak-kan (GC-New Territories East, DAB)- is green promoted, from Deputy Chairman. Cyd Ho (GC- Hong Kong Island, Labour Party) loses her Mother Earth title.
Deputy Chair: To be decided.

7) Panel on IT and Broadcasting – Panel tunes in the pro-establishment.
Chair: Elizabeth Quat (GC- New Territories East, DAB) gets a cable package upgrade from Deputy to Chair. Wong Yuk-man (GC- Kowloon West)’s show gets canceled.
Deputy Chair: Lo Wai-kwok (FC- Engineering)

8) Panel on Manpower – Pro-establishment dominate this term, Pan-dems lose the Chair.
Chair: Wong Kwok Kin (GC- Kowloon East, FTU) mans up from Deputy to Chair. Labour leader Lee Cheuk-yan (GC- NT West, Labour Party) is out.
Deputy Chair: Chiang Lai-wan (GC- Kowloon West, DAB)

9) Panel on Home Affairs – Pro-establishment homey, Pan-dems homely.
Chair: Starry Lee (FC- District Council 2nd, DAB) rules the roost, displacing pro-establishment colleague Ma Fung-kwok (FC- Sports, Performing Arts, Culture and Publication, New Forum).
Deputy Chair: Yiu Si-wing (FC- Tourism) boots Kenneth Chan (GC- Hong Kong Island, Civic Party) from the DC.

10) Panel on Transport – Pro-establishment keep on truckin’, Pan-dems hit the rails.
Chair: Michael Tien (GC- New Territories West, New People’s Party), scourge of the MTR takes the post. Chan Kam-lam (GC- Kowloon East, DAB) steps aside.
Deputy Chair: Tang Ka-piu (FC- Labour, FTU)- rides on it. Gary Fan (GC- New Territories East, Neo Democrats) misses the bus.

11) Panel on Security – Pro-establishment dominate, Pan-dems lose the DC seat.
Chair: Ip Kwok-him (FC- DC 1st, DAB) – He is the incumbent chairman. He typically takes a hard line on security and can be expected to protect government interests in the upcoming debates on OC and other matters.
Deputy Chair: Ng Leung-sing (FC-Finance) – Ng was accused of breaching the rules of procedure in funding for new towns in New Territories when he was the LegCo’s Finance Committee’s Chair last term. James To (FC- District Council 2nd, DP) was the deputy chair in the previous term, but no pan-dems are in the game this term.

12) Panel on Development – Pro-establishment develops its profile.
Chair: Tony Tse (FC- Architectural, Surveying and Planning)- Tse was the Deputy Chairman last term.
Deputy Chair: The members have voted already, but the result has as of yet to be disclosed. Gary Fan (GC- New Territories East, Neo Democrats) and Lau Wong-fat (FC- Heung Yee Kuk, BPA) are competing for the seat. Lau was the Chair last term, however, Long Hair expressed doubt as to whether Lau can do his job well, given Lau’s age at 77 year-old. Hmmph. Agist.

13) Panel on Housing – Pro-establishment home, sweet, home.
Chair: Alice Mak (GC- New Territories West, FTU) takes the keys to the house from Wong Kwok-hing (GC- Hong Kong Isalnd, FTU).
Deputy Chair: Have not started voting, but members nominated two people, Christopher Chung (GC- Hong Kong Island, DAB) and Wu Chi-wai (GC- Kowloon East, DP). Wu was the Deputy Chair last term. Pro-establishment domination suggests Christopher Chung is in a good position.

14) Panel on Public Services – Unions rule the day.
Chair: Poon Siu-ping (FC- Labour, Federation of Hong Kong and Kowloon Labour Unions)- steps up, Regina Ip (GC- Hong Kong Island, NPP) steps out. Interestingly enough, Ip has not taken any seats of Chair or Deputy Chair so far. Poon was the Deputy Chair last term.
Deputy Chair: Kwok Wai-keung (FC- Labour, FTU)

15) Panel on Economic Development – Pro-establishment business people to develop.
Chair: Jeffrey Lam (FC- Commercial 1st, BPA)- This panel was also dominated by the pro-establishment last term. James Tien (GC- New Territories East, Liberal Party) was the Chair.
Deputy Chair: Chung Kwok-pan (FC- Textiles and Garment, Liberal Party)- Jeffrey Lam (FC- Commercial 1st, BPA) was the Deputy Chair.

16) Panel on Commerce and Industry – Pro-establishment dominate, same as the other one (above).
Chair: Wong Ting-kwong (FC- Imports and Exports, DAB)
Deputy Chair: Vincent Fang (FC- Wholesale and Retail, Liberal Party)- Fang was the Chair last term and Chiang Lai-wan (GC- Kowloon West, DAB) was the deputy Chair.

17) Panel on Financial Affairs – Pro-establishment cashes in their coupon.
Chair: Chan Kin-por (FC- Insurance)- This panel was dominated by the pro-establishment last term as well. Starry Lee (FC- District Council 2nd, DAB) was the Chair.
Deputy Chair: Christopher Cheung (FC- Financial Services)- He is the incumbent Deputy Chair.

18) Panel on Health Service – Pan-democrats in ruddy health here with a switcheroo.
Chair: Joseph Lee (FC- Health Services)- Nurse. He was the Deputy Chair last term.
Deputy Chair: Leung Ka-lau (FC- Medical) – Doctor. He was the Chair last term.

19) Panel on Welfare Services – Pan-dems on on welfare with another switcheroo.
Chair: Cheung Kwok-che (FC- Social Work, Labour Party)
Deputy Chair: Chan Yuen-han (FC- District Council 2nd, FTU)
Last term Chan was the Chair, Cheung was the Deputy Chair.

20) Panel on Administration of Justice and Legal Services – No change, your Honour!
Chair: Priscilla Leung (GC- Kowloon West, BPA)
Deputy Chair: Dennis Kwok (FC- Legal, Civic Party)

21) Panel on Education – 2013/2014 = 2014/2015. Easy maths.
Chair: Lam Tai-fai (FC- Industrial 2nd)
Deputy Chair: Yip Kin-yuen (FC- Education)

22) Panel on Constitutional Affairs – No constitutional change. Heard that somewhere…
Chair: Tam Yiu-chung (GC- New Territories West, DAB)- Chair of DAB, pro-Beijing camp.
Deputy Chair: Paul Tse (GC- Kowloon East)