Political reform proposal was out this Wednesday. Meanwhile, filibustering began and 7 meetings were expected to vote on the 618 amendments.
April 20 Monday
Meeting of Subcommittee on the Two Proposed Resolutions Relating to the Establishment of the Innovation and Technology Bureau
First meeting after the staffing proposals of ITB failed to get past in the Finance Committee in February. Charles Mok (FC- IT) contested with Lo Wai-kwok (FC- Engineering, BPA) in Chairman election. Mr Mok got 3 votes while Dr Lo got 12. Late membership of Wong Yuk-man (GC- Kowloon West) was approved.
The Government told LegCo again that it will propose a resolution to refute the resolution passed last year in the Council to establish the Innovation and Technology Bureau, and a new resolution for the same purpose as last year will be proposed again in May. The Government reiterated that it is not trying to create a slippery slope by refuting an approved resolution. Relevant funding proposals of ITB will be submitted to the Finance Committee after the Council approves the Appropriation Bill.
Wong Kwok-hing (GC- HK Island, FTU) took the opportunity to blast the filibustering of some pan-dems. Claudia Mo (GC- Kowloon West, Civic Party) criticised the proposed ITB will only benefit “CY Leung’s fans” as they will likely hold key positions. No members have filed amendments to the Government’s proposal, so there’s no need for the Subcommittee to meet again.
Meeting of Panel on Constitutional Affairs
- Discussion on the progress of the work of the Advisory Group on Eliminating Discrimination against Sexual Minorities. The Advisory Group was created in 2013 and has thus far convened eight meetings. Wong Yuk-man criticised the Government has stalled the legislation to protect sexual minorities. Under Secretary for Constitutional and Mainland Affairs Lau Kong-wah said the Advisory Group will submit a recommendation report to the Government soon.
Chairman of the Equal Opportunities Commission, Dr York Chow, announced previously that he will submit recommendations to the Government for a new anti-discrimination law by the end of this year which the new law may incorporate the current four anti-discrimination laws (race, family status, sex, disability) into one. EOC has also commissioned CUHK to study on the discrimination problem against sexual minorities and will have the findings by next year.
- Discussion on the Operation of the Elections (Corrupt and Illegal Conduct) Ordinance. There were opinions suggesting to relax the requirement of which election expenses over $100 may not need to be supported with invoices or receipts. The Government said that was not necessary as many of the election expenses were far beyond $100 and the candidates should always keep the receipts and the invoices for record.
April 21 Tuesday
Hearing of Select Committee to Inquire into the Background of and Reasons for the Delay of the Construction of the Hong Kong section of the Guangzhou-Shenzhen-Hong Kong Express Rail Link
Director of Highways Mr Peter Lau Ka-keung attended a 3-hour hearing to testify. Michael Tien (GC- NT West, NPP) cited a previous Government’s document to LegCo that had not included the information about one of the rock excavation projects at the Kowloon station and asked Mr Lau if he thinks MTR deliberately omitted to report to the Government. Mr Lau refused to answer as he did not have the document in hands but later on admitted that the Government knew about the rock excavation projects.
Meeting of Panel on Manpower
- Lee Cheuk-yan (GC- NT West, Labour Party) demanded the Government to come to LegCo and discuss the latest progress of the Supplementary Labour Scheme. Tang Ka-piu (FC- Labour, FTU) supported Lee’s request.
- Discussion on the outcome of the 2014 Annual Earnings and Hours Survey released in March. It shows the median income from May to June 2014 was $14,800, 5.3% higher than the median of $14,100 from May to June 2013. The median hourly wage of employees in Hong Kong from May to June 2014 was $60.0, 4.3% higher than the median of $57.5 in the same period a year ago. Lee Cheuk-yan claimed that while the average hourly wage in Hong Kong is lower than many OECD countries, the average working hour tops the ranking.
April 22 Wednesday
Meeting of Public Works Subcommittee
Discussion on building a Multi-purpose Sports Complex at Kai Tak. The Government is seeking to commence some pre-construction works at a cost of $62.7 million. Last time, members were concerned of the sports strategy of Hong Kong to complement the complex, the purpose of the complex and the transport support.
Albert Chan (GC- NT West, People Power) considered the entire Kai Tak planning a “disaster”. He said the proposed Sports Complex were not welcomed by the sports community and if the Government wants to develop the sports industry, it should build a ‘sports city’, rather than the Sports Complex which will likely be used for commercial purposes. Discussion underway.
Chief Secretary announced the political reform proposal at the Council. All pan-dems, except Ronny Tong (GC- NT East, Civic Party) and Longhair (GC- NT East, LSD), walked out of the Council to protest.
Members resumed to debate on the Appropriation Bill in the afternoon. Filibuster began as several pan-dems requested counting of quorum for more than 10 times.
April 23 Thursday
Debate continued on the Appropriation Bill, specifically the 618 amendments. Only pan-dems spoke on the amendments. People Power’s Albert Chan proposed to cut the CE Office’s annual budget to $1000 while Labour Party’s Lee Cheuk-yan proposed to cut the expense to purchase 3 water cannons by the Police
There were two occasions when it was seconds away from adjournment after continuous attempts to request for counting for quorum by Albert Chan, Raymond Chan and League of Social Democrats’ Leung Kwok-hung.
April 24 Friday
Special House Committee Meeting
Chief Secretary will attend to discuss the Population Policy with the members. The Government estimates the total population of Hong Kong will grow moderately from the present 7.23 million to 8.47 million in 2041, at an annual growth rate of 0.6%. Such a slow growth is coupled with an aging population.
Persons aged 65 or above is expected to increase from the current 15.5% to 32% in the population by 2041. The “old-old” (aged 75 or above) will increase from the current 7.7% to 18.9% in 2041. The labour force will fall from the peak of 3.71 million in 2018 to 3.51 million in 2035 before reaching a stable condition.
“An ageing population will impose heavy burden on public finance as demand on healthcare and social services increases. On the other hand, insufficient labour will slow down economic growth,” a Government paper shows. Carrie Lam will explain a five-pronged strategy to the members to tackle the demographic problem:
- To draw more women and mature persons into the labour market.
- To create more diversified job opportunities with promising prospects for young people.
- To attract more outside talent to work and settle in Hong Kong.
- To foster a supportive environment for our people to form and raise families.
- To build an age-friendly environment, promoting active ageing and tapping the valuable pool of elderly resources.