ITB was established the second time at the Council on Wednesday and Raymond Tam announced the Government reform proposal will be tabled on June 17.
June 1 Monday
Meeting of Panel on Financial Affairs
Financial Secretary John Tsang addressed members on Hong Kong’s economic situation for the first quarter of 2015. GDP growth rate is at 2.1%, slightly below the 2.4% growth in the preceding quarter. Inflation falls from 3.3% in the preceding quarter to 2.7% due to the fall in energy prices and moderate local cost pressures. Unemployment rate is at 3.3% and the underemployment rate falls to 1.4%.
Mr Tsang said the housing market will remain uncertain because it is unclear when the Fed will raise the interest rate. He reminded people to be cautious when entering the property market.
June 2 Tuesday
Meeting of Panel on Environmental Affairs
Discussion on building an on-shore power supply (OPS) at the Kai Tak Cruise Terminal to reduce the emissions of Ocean Going Vessels (OGVs) at berth. The use of OPS would allow the vessels to turn off their auxiliary engines while they park at the terminal. The estimated cost for the whole OPS system is about $315 million and annual maintenance will amount to be around $14 million.
Secretary for Environment Wong Kam-sing said that despite it is feasible to build the OPS, the demand tends to be low, citing that only few vessels are equipped to use OPS and more and more vessels have installed scrubber to reduce the emissions of SO2, which are the reasons why the Government decides not to go forward with the OPS for the time being. Of the 56 vessels scheduled to park at the terminal this year, Mr Wong said only 6 of them are equipped to use OPS.
Civic Party lawmaker Kenneth Chan (GC- HK Island) criticised the Government has not delivered its promise when CE CY Leung pledged to build the OPS in his 2013 Policy Address. He urged the Government to build it to improve the air quality.
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
Fifth hearing on the matter and Mr Wai Chi-sing, former Director of Highways and now retired, was present to testify. Mr Wai said that at the time he left the job, the construction just began and there was a small delay of the construction project but he said that was “understandable” as construction companies need time for recruitment at the beginning stage. He denied the accusation that the Government has not monitored the project properly.
Democratic Party lawmaker Wu Chi-wai (GC- Kowloon East) asked if the agreement between the Government and MTR included a compensation mechanism subject to the delay of construction. Mr Wai refused to comment. However, when he later answered to Tse Wai-chuen’s (FC- Architectural, Surveying and Planning) question, he said MTR was informed that if something goes wrong with the construction, MTR needs to pay for it and the Government has the right to pursue the matter in court.
Meeting of Subcommittee on Proposals on the Method for Selecting the Chief Executive in 2017
Last meeting to discuss the Government’s reform proposal. Pan-dems criticised the rhetorics of the Chinese officials last Sunday, such as when they said that to vote down the reform proposal will be the same as destroying ‘One Country Two Systems’. Secretary for Constitutional and Mainland Affairs Raymond Tam said that ‘One Country Two Systems’ will be effective as always, regardless the proposal is passed or not.
Kwok Ka-ki (GC- NT West, Civic Party) mocked the Government that it should stipulate in the proposal that pan-dems should not be nominated and appointed, given Wang Guangya, Director of the Hong Kong and Macau Affairs Office, said last Sunday that Beijing will not appoint those who will fight against the Central Government as the Chief Executive.
Raymond Tam announced the proposal will be tabled at the Council on June 17. Members cannot make amendments and are only allowed to speak on the topic once.
Meeting of Panel on Security
1.Discussion on the “access to computer with criminal or dishonest intent” in the Criminal Ordinance. Under Secretary for Security John Lee said that the number of crime cases concerning technology has risen significantly between 2002 and 2014 (from 272 cases to 6,778 cases), causing an economic loss of more than $1.2 billion.
Emily Lau (GC- NT East, DP) was worried that the law will be akin to Article 23 and the Police is abusing the law to charge people with radical opinions. Pro-establishment members urged to expand the scope of the law but John Lee saw it unnecessary in the meantime.
Charles Mok’s (FC- IT, Professional Commons) motion to urge the Law Reform Commission to review the law and conduct consultation was voted down by 13 to 14. However, Elizabeth Quat’s (GC- NT East, DAB) motion to urge the Government to review the law was approved by 15 to 13.
June 3 Wednesday
Meeting of Public Works Subcommittee
- Proposal to expand the Hong Kong Museum of Art at a cost of $934.4 million.
- Proposal to relocate the New Territories West Regional Office and Water Resources Education Centre of Water Supplies Department to Tin Shui Wai at coast of $823.4 million.
- Proposal to build roads and drains in Shatin to support the public housing
development at a cost of $224.5 million.
- Proposal to increase the project estimate of the Hong Kong–Zhuhai–Macao Bridge Hong Kong Boundary Crossing Facilities by $5,461.1 million (from $30,433.9 million to $35,895.0 million).
- Discussion underway.
- Chairman of the Public Accounts Committee Abraham Shek (FC- Real Estate and Construction, BPA) delivered the Committee’s report in which the Director General of Civil Aviation Department (CAD), Norman Lo, was heavily criticised. “The Committee strongly condemns the CAD for its incompetence and negligence in managing the procurement and the implementation of the ATMS (Air Traffic Management System) project,” Mr Shek said.
- Members approved the establishment of the Innovation and Technology Bureau by 38 to 3. Most of the pan-dems didn’t cast any vote (not abstaining), while Charles Mok voted yes, and the filibuster gang voted no. 32 amendments filed by the two People Power lawmakers Raymond Chan (GC- NT East) and Albert Chan (GC- NT West) were all voted down.
- Debate on Chan Yuen-han’s (FC- DC 2nd, FTU) motion to urge the Government to enact legislation on standard working hours. Debate underway.
June 4 Thursday
Continuation of Council meeting
- Chan’s motion was voted down in the FC despite pan-dems all supported it.
- Debate on Cheung Kwok-che’s (FC- Social Welfare, Labour Party) motion to abolish the lump sum grant subvention system and the competitive bidding system implemented in the social welfare sector. Cheung said the measures have damaged the ecosystem of the social welfare sector and led to a difference in salaries of the same type of works between the Social Welfare Department and non-governmental institutions. Again, motion was voted down in the FC.