SCMP Tuesday, June 27, 2000


Fight rages on no-confidence vote


Officials were last night engaged in a tough fight to block the passage of a no-confidence vote by legislators in two top housing chiefs, despite the resignation of one of them - Housing Authority chairwoman Rosanna Wong Yick-ming - ahead of the debate.

After an urgent meeting on Ms Wong's resignation, Liberal Party chairman James Tien Pei-chun said the party stuck to its support for the motion, which could be moved by Democrat Fred Li Wah-ming as early as today.

Of the 10 Liberals, six are set to join Democrat and Democratic Alliance for the Betterment of Hong Kong members in backing the no-confidence vote. Of the other four, both Ho Sai-chu and Selina Chow Liang Shuk-yee would not join the debate nor vote. The voting intentions of Ronald Arculli and Lau Wong-fat remain unclear.

The Liberals' support for the motion is crucial following signs that more non-affiliated legislators, after lobbying by officials, would either oppose or abstain now that Ms Wong has resigned.

Mr Tien said: "We feel a majority of the problem has been resolved. But I can't see any reasons why we should change our stance." The party would find it acceptable either for Director of Housing Tony Miller to stay for a year to try to help tackle the public housing problems before transferring to another department or for somebody else to replace him, he said. "I am very confident the motion will be passed," Mr Tien said.

One crucial target for government lobbying was banker and non-affiliated legislator David Li Kwok-po.

Fred Li said he was delighted with the Liberal Party's support. He likened the chance of his motion to the Hang Seng Index. "There are lots of ups and downs. It's now going up a bit. . . It will be a pretty close vote." He said he had decided not to amend the motion by deleting Ms Wong's name.

Eric Li Ka-cheung, non-affiliated legislator and convenor of the Breakfast Group of independents said 11 non-affiliated members had informally discussed the motion again but views were still divided on the implications of its passage.

Independent Ng Leung-sing, who has vowed to oppose the motion, said he and six other authority committee chairmen planned to write to members to explain why the motion would not help solve the problem of building quality.

Ambrose Lau Hon-chuen, chairman of the Hong Kong Progressive Alliance, said the motion was now "meaningless". Party colleague Choy So-yuk, who had earlier indicated support for Mr Li's motion, is now re-thinking.

DAB chairman Tsang Yok-sing said the party would not support the motion if it only expressed no-confidence in the Director of Housing and not Ms Wong.

Meanwhile, a poll conducted by the Democratic Party between last Monday and Thursday showed about 64 per cent of the 527 respondents support Mr Li's motion.

Only 14.8 per cent of respondents opposed it.