Filibustering amendments are being voted on, with 19 left for next week. CE to lodge appeal against High Count’s ruling in favour of HKTV. Completion of Shatin to Central Link is estimated to be delayed by 11 months with cost overrun.
May 18 Monday
Meeting of Panel on Administration of Justice and Legal Services
- Discussion on the manpower and other support for the Judiciary. Liberal Party lawmaker Chung Kwok-pan (FC- Textiles and Garment) has previously raised the issue of long court waiting time and the Government explained that it was due to the shortage of judicial manpower caused by retiring judges. 7 new judges were hired, and the vacancies of Judges and Judicial Officers drop from 34 in 2013 to 24 currently. Of the 24 vacancies, 13 at the magisterial level are not fillable because of the shortage of courtrooms at that level of court.
- Review on the implementation of Civil Justice Reform (CJR) which was introduced in 2009 to grant the courts greater case management power to prevent tactical manipulation of the rules by the litigators to delay proceedings. Other reform measures include streamlining and improving civil procedures, and to facilitate early settlement by parties.
The CJR Monitoring Committee was created subsequently in 2009 to oversee the reform. The Committee last met in January 2015 to discuss the latest position regarding the implementation of the CJR. The Government reported that Committee members “took a consensual view that the implementation of CJR has so far been smooth and satisfactory on the whole. Experience shows that CJR works.”
Meeting of Panel on Health Services
The Government lashed out 3 proposed legislation on tobacco – banning smoking at Bus Interchange at Tunnels Portal Areas, enlarging warning graphics on cigarette package from 50% to 85%, and to ban e-cigarette. The proposals received backlash from both pan-dems and pro-establishment members. Read more in HT’s report.
May 19 Tuesday
Meeting of Subcommittee on Matters Relating to Railways
Discussion on the construction of the Shatin to Central Link; construction of the West Island Line, South Island Line (East) and Kwun Tong Line Extension; and the construction of the Hong Kong section of the Guangzhou-Shenzhen-Hong Kong Express Rail Link.
Under Secretary for Transport and Housing Transport and Housing Bureau Mr Yau Shing-mu said because of the archaeological site found in To Kwa Wan, the Shatin to Central Link will be delayed by 11 months and the cost associated with the site was estimated to be around $4.1 billion. The Government is assessing the cost overrun of the whole project.
Regarding the co-location arrangements at the Hong Kong section of the Guangzhou-Shenzhen-Hong Kong Express Rail Link, Mr Yau said the Government has created a special task force to handle the matter. He reinstated that for the Express Rail Link to be fully utilised, co-location arrangements will be necessary.
Claudia Mo (GC- Kowloon West, Civic Party) was worried that to apply mainland laws in Hong Kong is to forsake ‘one country and two systems’.
May 20 Wednesday
Meeting of Public Works Subcommittee
Members approved all proposals and it will be sent to the Finance Committee for further discussion:
- Construction of West Kowloon Government Office passed, costing $4,742.5 million. The site is located on 11 Hoi Ting Road, occupying 10,900 square metres. Tender, already opened in June 2014, will expire on 25 June 2015.
- Food and Environmental Hygiene Department’s depot on Sai Yee Street in West Kowloon reclamation area will be reprovisioned, costing $1,549.9 million.
- The cost of sludge treatment facilities in Deep Bay (currently under construction) increases from HK$5154.4 million to $5,364.3 million.
- A new road connecting to Tong Hang Road in Tuen Men will be built. 7.5 ha of land (two sites, 4.5 ha and 2.9 ha respectively) is zoned for public housing development, aiming to provide 7,000 housing flats by 2022.
- Project to upgrade water supply system in Tuen Mun will cost $87.7 million. Completion is estimated to be 2019.
- Shatin Transfer Station will be refurbished. The estimated cost is $137.1 million. Completion is projected to be mid-2017.
Filibustering on the budget begins at around 3:30pm. A total of 618 proposed amendments was received earlier on 20 April.
The Secretary of Food and Health has published written replies to Kwok Ka-Ki (GC – New Territories West, Civic Party) and Leung Ka-Lau (FC – Medical)’s enquiries about medical equipment and drug policy.
Lam Tai-Fai (FC – Industrial Second) and Frederick Fung (FC – District Council Second, Hong Kong Association for Democracy and People’s Livelihood) enquiried about Government’s next step regarding High Court’s ruling in favour of HKTV’s judicial review. Lam suggested re-vetting HKTV’s application for television programme service licence. Secretary of Commerce and Economic Development confirmed that the CE is planning to lodge an appeal against High Court’s judgement.
May 21 Thursday
Continuation of Council meeting
Filibustering on the budget continues. Albert Chan (GC – New Territories West, People Power), Chan Chi-chuen (GC – New Territories East, People Power/The Frontier) and Wong Yuk-man (GC – Kowloon West)’s proposed amendments to cut down entirely the management costs for CE’s office, Offices of the Chief Secretary for Administration and the Financial Secretary, Hong Kong Police Force, and Constitutional and Mainland Affairs Bureau all failed.
May 22 Friday
Continuation of Council meeting
The council almost failed to reach quorum for over 10 times but was able to vote down almost all the amendments filed by ‘radical democrats’. The remaining 19 amendments will be voted on next Wednesday.