SCMP Wednesday, October 11, 2000

Lawmakers slam 'bickering' comments


Chief Executive Tung Chee-hwa's policy address on Wednesday afternoon left a bad taste in the mouths of some democracy and legal advocates.
''Referring to a certain hostility in the community that he thinks is destructive, he [Tung] said 'We should spend time doing something constructive instead of scolding or criticising people,''' said Legal Functional Constituency representative Margaret Ng Ngoi-yee.
''Well the Legislative Council exists to monitor Government policy and to raise criticism if we think that the government is not doing right. I think it's wholly unnecessary and fairly offensive for him to say such a thing.''
Disappointed with the Government's labour and unemployment plans the Confederation of Trade Unions' Lee Cheuk-yan added: ''If he wishes to end hostility he needs first to stop provoking the public and to start showing real results.''
Democrats blasted Mr Tung over what they said was a failiure to adequately address the issue of political reform.
''The only time Tung mentioned the word 'democracy' was when he talked of the time when he ran for Chief Executive four years ago,'' said Liberal Party chairman Martin Lee Chu-ming.
Mr Lee said a basic timetable for the development of democracy had been set out in the Basic Law and thus should be followed.
''Supposedly by 2007 even the position of Chief Executive is to be elected by the public.''
Mr Lee added that the Chief Executive's call for ''less unnecessary quarrelling but more rational discussion'' would not help improve relations between the elected body and the Executive Council, adding that Mr Tung should realise that the Exco should answer to Legco and stop trying to discourage them from ''causing trouble''.
However, others were not so critical. The pro-Beijing Democratic Alliance for the Betterment of Hong Kong said it basically supported the direction set forth by the policy address, although more solid steps needed to be taken.
The Liberal Party, happy that the Chief Executive had addressed all of the concerns that they had proposed in his policy speech, gave the speech a warm welcome.
''I fully support Tung's views. Understanding before asking for change is very important,'' party chairman James Tien Pei-chun said.
''People can express their views whenever they want in Hong Kong,'' he added.