The Council debated Dennis Kwok’s motion on One Country, Two Systems. There were more members speaking on this subject than the reform proposal and Kwok mocked the walk-out of the pro-establishment members last week.
June 22 Monday
Meeting of Panel on Public Service
Discussion on the 2015-2016 Civil Service Pay Adjustment. Chief Executive CY Leung and Executive Council have decided earlier to increase the pay raise of the civil servants for another 0.5% on top of the amount decided last year. The latest pay increase for civil servants in the upper salary band is 3.96%, and 4.62% for middle and lower salary band. Finance Committee will discuss whether to approve the pay raise proposal on Friday.
Secretary for the Civil Service Paul Tang said 54% of the civil servants have reached their salary cap. Some members were concerned that the pay adjustment is not fair to these civil servants as they will benefit less as the increment of their salary is minimal when they top the salary cap.
Meeting of Panel on Economic Development
Discussion on port and logistics development. Hong Kong was ranked as the world’s busiest port in the early 2000s but was overtaken by Singapore in 2005. It is now ranked after Shanghai, Singapore and Shenzhen. Kwai Tsing Container Terminals handle 79% of the overall container throughput in Hong Kong. The Government commissioned two consultants to study the proposal of building a new Container Terminal 10 at Southwest Tsing Yi and reports published last year showed that though the proposal is technically feasible, it is not viable financially or economically because the latest forecast of throughput growth of ports in Hong Kong is at a slower rate than what was previously forecast. “The development of CT10 requires a capital cost estimate of $60.9 billion (in 2011 prices), and it is expected that the economic and financial returns could not fully recover the investment costs within the 50-year evaluation period,” the Government writes to LegCo.
Kenneth Leung (FC- Accountancy, Professional Commons) suggested the Government to focus not only on expanding the container throughout capacity as Hong Kong faces a limited land supply problem but to focus on how to improve on the services in the ports, such as to modernise the services and streamline the bureaucracy. Secretary for Transport and Housing Anthony Cheung agreed with Leung’s comments.
June 23 Tuesday
Meeting of Establishment Subcommittee
- Creation of 2 AO posts in the Environmental Protection Department for the implementation of the quantity-based municipal solid waste charging.
- Creation of a Deputy Chief Fire Officer position in the Fire Services Department to develop and implement structured quality assurance and training accreditation mechanisms.
Joint meeting of Panel on Health Services and Panel on Commerce and Industry
42 deputations attended the meeting to discuss the regulation and development of beauty services. Among them were the Hong Kong Doctors Union who supported the Government’s proposal to regulate the beauty services to be performed by registered practitioners. Hong Kong Medical and Healthcare Device Industries Association welcomed the Government to “establish vigilant regulations on listing and registration of medical devices”. However, Hong Kong Association of Cosmetic Surgery was concerned that “too strict regulations with the added costs and administrative burden will fundamentally change the ecology of medical practice, favouring enterprises with higher capital strength to dominate the market.”
June 24 Wednesday
Meeting of Public Works Subcommittee
- $103.2 million for the pre-construction consultancy services and site investigation works of the proposed Government Office Building in Cheung Sha Wan.
- $256.6 million for the construction of a 12-classroom special school for children with mild intellectual disability.
Selected members’ questions:
James Tien (GC- NT East, Liberal Party)
Q: There are views that since mainland has been vigorously developing nuclear power generation in recent years, even if Hong Kong increases its import of nuclear power from the Mainland, the impact on mainland’s total nuclear power capacity will be minimal and therefore nuclear safety risks will not increase significantly, and given that the prices of nuclear power are relatively cheap and stable, whether the authorities have studied if it is feasible to increase the share of nuclear power in the fuel mix for electricity generation?
Secretary for the Environment, Mr Wong Kam-sing
A: Regarding the future fuel mix, the Government received more than 86,000 submissions during the public consultation on fuel mix last year. Of the two options, most of the respondents preferred local generation. We plan to increase the percentage of local gas generation to around 50% in 2020. We will maintain the current interim measure to import 80% of the nuclear output from the Daya Bay Nuclear Power Station, such that nuclear import would account for around 25%.
Ronny Tong (GC- NT East)
Q: There are comments that as the Government has been actively implementing development plans and launching infrastructure projects in recent years, it has deliberately appointed a number of persons with property development backgrounds as members of related advisory and statutory bodies (including the (i) Town Planning Board, (ii) Advisory Council on the Environment, (iii) Country and Marine Parks Board, (iv) Energy Advisory Committee and (v) Lantau Development Advisory Committee), in order to reduce the resistance the authorities may encounter when implementing development plans. What are the backgrounds of the members in these boards?
Secretary for the Environment, Mr Wong Kam-sing
A: Many advisory and statutory bodies’ (ASBs) members may serve different sectors concurrently. The Government does not set any ratios for members from any sectors for the aforesaid five ASBs in accordance with their background or expertise. Currently, all the aforesaid five ASBs have members with expertise in environmental conservation.
Bills for 1st Reading:
Securities and Futures (Amendment) Bill 2015
To enable the Securities and Futures Commission to provide a narrow form of supervisory assistance to regulators outside Hong Kong upon request.
Inland Revenue (Amendment) (No. 3) Bill 2015
To enhance the tax appeal mechanism and improve the efficiency and effectiveness of the Board of Review (Inland Revenue Ordinance).
Dennis Kwok (FC- Legal, Civic Party) moved a motion to “request the SAR Government to earnestly invite the Central Government to implement and continue the state policy of ‘one country, two systems’ in Hong Kong in accordance with the original intent of ‘one country, two systems’.“ Ip Kin-yuen (FC- Education) urged the Government to safeguard academic freedom and educational institutions’ autonomy. Gary Fan (GC- NT East, Neo Democrats) claimed that since CY Leung assumed office as CE, the impact of the Central Government on the internal affairs of Hong Kong has been intensifying in various aspects, such as the white paper on the Practice of the ‘One Country, Two Systems’ Policy. Mr Fan said that no department of the Central Government and no province, autonomous region, or municipality directly under the Central Government may interfere in the affairs which the SAR Government administers on its own in accordance with the Basic Law. Debate underway.
June 25 Thursday
Continuation of Council meeting
Debate continued on Dennis Kwok’s motion. Raymond Chan (GC- NT East, People Power) said the speeches by some pro-establishment members were nonsense and full of conspiracy. He criticised Wong Kwok-hing’s (GC- HK Island, FTU) speech which he suggested Kwok’s motion was deliberately scheduled to come after the political reform debate but the truth is members will not know when their motions will be tabled. At his closing speech, Dennis Kwok said two DAB members have asked him to follow Ronny Tong’s move and quit Civic Party, Kwok said “at least my party leader will not ask me to follow him out without voting on the political reform proposal. I am glad that Alan Leong and Civic Party allow me to have freedom of will. I am still Dennis Kwok and not a voting machine. I am glad that the quality of my party leader is not that low.” Kwok’s motion was voted down by 23 to 36 and 1 abstaining.