As 2016 approaches, HT asks four pan-dems their visions and top priorities for the year – or more appropriately nine months – ahead.
Gary Fan Kwok-wai (范國威, GC – New Territories East, Neo Democrats)
As a legislator who adopts a localist stance, I will take local issues, including the individual visit scheme, the power to grant one-way permits, and the project to build a desalination plant [in Tseung Kwan O] as my priorities in 2016.
The ‘Internet Article 23’ will be dealt with in the near future. Meanwhile, the huge budget overrun of the high-speed rail link and the co-location arrangements which would violate the ‘One Country, Two Systems’ principle will be the issue in the middle run.
The year 2016 will be full of political disputes on top of being an election year. I don’t see any sign of alleviation and how the confrontational approach of CY Leung’s administration will be changed.
Alan Leong Kah-kit (梁家傑, GC – Kowloon East, Civic Party)
I think 2016 will be a defining year for Hong Kong in terms of where we are heading. I say so because in 2016 there will be three very important elections: The Legislative Council by-election taking place in the New Territories East constituency, the September general elections of the Legislative Council, and then the Election Committee elections to decide who will be able to vote in the Chief Executive election in 2017.
What Hong Kong is now going through is a very critical process that can find comparables in the time leading up to, for example, the French Revolution and the revolution led by Dr Sun Yat Sen a century ago. The process is also very similar to what we saw of African-Americans who wanted to be treated equally with the White Americans in the country, [so did the British females in fight for voting rights as we saw in the film ‘Suffragette’]. All these themes would take a course if those in power are not responding positively to the demand of Hong Kong people.
2016 will see Hong Kong go through a year of turbulence which [the city] would end up in a situation that the majority may not want to see. It depends on how those in power would react to the people’s call for an electoral system, which would deliver a government that is fully accountable to the people as a guarantee for our sustained freedom and the rule of law.
There will be a number of important issues to be handled in the following months. We will be going back to the second reading of the copyright bill. Then we will deal with the Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macau Bridge funding…and the Express Rail Link funding which is now going through the Public Works Subcommittee. We would also see the conclusion of the government’s purported consultation on the comprehensive retirement benefits scheme.
More and more Hong Kong people are coming round to realising that Hong Kong is departing from a place that could take on rational debates. As long as CY Leung is still in office as the Chief Executive, it is really very difficult to have the Legislative Council doing business as usual. I would expect the so-called filibustering to continue in the remaining months of my tenure as a legislator.
Leung Kwok-hung (梁國雄, GC – New Territories East, League of Social Democrats)
The first and foremost agenda in 2016 would, of course, be the ‘Internet Article 23’ second reading in the Legislative Council. I hope we can get the amendment motions moved by fellow pan-democrats passed to address netizens’ concerns.
The retirement protection scheme consultation will also be at the top of my agenda. The Hong Kong government certainly has the resources to pursue a more comprehensive package despite its seeming unwillingness to do so.
Frustration among supporters of democracy will likely continue as long as the Umbrella Revolution is yet to be properly concluded in terms of what lesson pan-dems should draw from the movement and act in accordance. There are now more post-Umbrella activists who do not give enough thought before running in elections within the establishment. Such imbalance between social movements and elections should be addressed in the future.
Kenneth Leung Kai-cheong (梁繼昌, FC – Accountancy, Professional Commons)
I think my priorities in 2016 will be given to two tax-related legislations. The first one is the legislation and implementation of Automatic Exchange of Financial Account Information in Tax Matters as there is an international obligation for Hong Kong to follow the latest OECD standards. The second one is the Inland Revenue amendment bill (No.4) which would facilitate the establishment of corporate treasury centres in Hong Kong.
On top of that, I am also moving a private member bill to protect the rights of whistleblowers in three-week’s time.
Meanwhile, I hope the Environment Bureau will formulate a new carbon reduction target in pursuit of the COP21 international obligation. The current carbon intensity reduction is not quite practical and may not achieve the overall objective, so I wish there will be a clearer target set explicitly for carbon emissions.
As for 2016’s political spectrum, I think filibustering will go on as usual as people become used to disputes and quarrels. I though hope that the turnout rate for the Legislative Council elections will be something around 60% and 70%. Hong Kong people should realise that coming out to vote bears more than just political significance as it will also affect their everyday lives.