- The government hopes to work with all lawmakers on the basis of mutual respect, tolerance, and rationality, Matthew Cheung writes on his blog
- This year’s policy address will aim to improve people’s livelihoods and promote Hong Kong’s development, he says
Hong Kong's No 2 official has appealed to opposition lawmakers to cooperate with the government and not block works projects and relief measures worth more than HK$93 billion (US$12 billion) aimed at improving people's livelihoods and jacking up the economy.
Chief Secretary Matthew Cheung Kin-chung's appeal came two days after pan-democrats resorted to filibustering to derail the first meeting of the Legislative Council Finance Committee, which was reduced to a shouting match.
In a piece posted on his official blog on Sunday, Cheung, the right-hand man of the city's leader Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor, wrote: "Having a good rapport between the executive and legislative branches is the key to effective governance.
"For the sake of the citizens' welfare, the government hopes to work with lawmakers from across the political spectrum on the foundation of mutual respect, tolerance, rationality, and in the spirit of seeking common ground while accommodating differences.
"The government will adopt an open attitude and will continue to listen to views of various quarters to improve governance. We appeal to lawmakers to ensure the legislature can operate in an orderly, efficient, and smooth manner, to avoid stagnating Hong Kong."
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The Finance Committee convened its first meeting last Friday since the summer break, but failed to complete its first order of business after pro-democracy lawmakers again resorted to filibustering to block the election of a new chairman and deputy chairman.
The discussion was to continue on Monday.
Cheung wrote in his piece that approval for funding requests for various works worth HK$74 billion was still pending before the committee. The works include a HK$34.2 billion project to upgrade water supplies and drainage facilities, and a HK$9.8 billion project for extension or redevelopment of Kwai Chung Hospital, Prince of Wales Hospital, North District Hospital, and Princess Margaret Hospital.
He said a series of relief measures announced by the government in August, worth HK$19.1 billion, was also awaiting the committee's approval.
"The current instability cannot prevail over Hong Kong forever. We need the support of citizens, and the cooperation of all sectors, to come out of the predicament," Cheung wrote.
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However, Civic Party vice-chairwoman Tanya Chan, also the convenor of the pan-democratic lawmakers, dismissed the allegation that they had attempted to filibuster in the committee meeting.
"It was the election of the chairman and deputy chairman. What is the problem?" she said.
"The role of the legislature is not to cooperate with the government, but to monitor the government.
"If the government had not filibustered and withdrawn the extradition bill some four months ago, all those (funding requests for) work projects should have been endorsed (by now)."
Hundreds of protesters stormed the Legislative Council complex on the anniversary of Hong Kong's return to Chinese sovereignty on July 1, vandalising meeting rooms, spray-painting graffiti, and bringing down security systems.
The attack, triggered by the now-withdrawn extradition bill, had forced Legco to close. The complex has been largely restored and the first full council meeting is scheduled for October 16 when Lam will deliver the policy address.
Cheung wrote on his blog that this year's policy address would mainly aim to improve people's livelihoods and promote Hong Kong's development.
He also said Secretary for Security John Lee Ka-chiu would officially announce the withdrawal of the extradition bill at the legislature following Lam's delivery of the policy address.
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Meanwhile, Financial Secretary Paul Chan Mo-po also called for the speedy passage of various works projects, which, he wrote, involved the creation of 14,000 jobs.
In a piece on his official blog on Sunday, Chan also called for peace. "After all these days, we should clearly see violence can solve no problem. The 'if we burn you'll burn with us' attitude will only affect the economy and make employees' lives more difficult."
Amid an uncertain economic outlook, Chan earlier appealed to major landlords, such as owners of shopping malls, to cut rents for shops and caterers, as the two sectors had suffered badly during months of anti-government protests.
He said the MTR Corporation had worked out rent alleviation proposals for affected shops on its premises, while rent relief measures were also being worked out for commercial tenants by the Airport Authority and real estate investment trust Link Reit.
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