Legco has the way but not the will

Editorial | Mary Ma 5 Jul 2019

It's utterly pathetic that our esteemed lawmakers can't meet to finish outstanding urgent business because their six-star Legislative Council complex was damaged during the wave of protests against the extradition bill.

In contrast, this has left me wondering why government members in some Third World countries are able to meet in buildings not even as comfortable as some three or even two-star hotels.

Always remember the common saying that if there's a will, there's a way. Maybe our pampered legislators don't have the will because they're pre-occupied with summer vacation plans, and thus give secondary priority to matters of grave livelihood importance.

Instead of finding the easy way out by calling an early start to the summer recess, to allow his peers to leave for Europe to cruise down the Danube River, or just to Seoul for a facelift, Legco president Andrew Leung Kwan-yuen should negotiate with the administration to let them use a spacious community hall to resolve urgent business - like funding for hospital projects, civil service pay rises, etc.

If Leung or other members from the well-heeled sector refuse to lower themselves to meeting at less than glamorous digs, they could always lease the Grand Theatre in the Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre.

That's the spiffy venue where Chief Executive Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor greeted hundreds of guests during the July 1 reception marking Hong Kong's return to Chinese sovereignty 22 years ago.

Those premises are obviously spacious and - more importantly - grandiose enough for the honorable members to sit down in total comfort to conduct and finish their urgent business.

But perhaps the Legco president is concerned it would be too expensive to rent the HKCEC hall, and the council may have to dig into its own pocket to pay for the additional expenses, given that for a grand hall, the rent would have to be grand too.

If that was Leung's concern when he announced all Legco events would be cancelled, he could always go cap-in-hand to Government House and ask Lam to give Legco HK$500 million - just as the latter had famously done to help medics at the peak of some past flu seasons.

When there's a practical solution, please quit saying the legislature must stop working because computers are down, lifts damaged, and walls vandalized, with graffiti scornful of government officials, or portraits of past and present presidents defaced or ripped down.

There are plenty of alternative venues lawmakers can use while they wait for contractors to repair the damaged council complex. The repair bill may be large, but I would be totally surprised if the figure is inflated to as much as HK$100 million, as reported by some.

Or is it really true that none of the conference rooms in the complex can be used? No even one? At worst, members may have to sit closer to each other if the room or rooms aren't as large as the main assembly hall.

The police have done what they've been ordered to - now it's time for lawmakers to play their role.

Otherwise, they will be viewed by the public as merely a bunch of selfish individuals capitalizing on others' misfortunes for an early summer break.

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