In the press

Updated: 2012-12-07 06:46

(HK Edition)

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In the press

OALA stuck in LegCo

Kwok Chung-hang

The government's funding request for the Old Age Living Allowance (OALA) scheme appears stuck in the LegCo. The government cannot take it back, opposition lawmaker Leung Kwok-hung will not give up his one-man filibuster, other opposition parties dare not change their stand on the issue and the pro-establishment parties criticize the opposition on a daily basis. Even a simple policy aimed at helping senior citizens in need cannot escape the claws of the opposition camp. One cannot but wonder who benefits from the city's politicization.

By far the funding request for the OALA scheme has become a stage for League of Social Democrats Chairman Leung Kwok-hung's one-man show, even though mainstream public opinion is critical of his political antics and his opposition allies seem uninterested. A pro-opposition newspaper maintains moral support for him by singing praise for his lonely crusade against poverty relief, which is understandable given that his position is a matter of political standing deprived of rational thought.

Apparently Leung knows very well he is in this all by himself now, but he doesn't care. What matters is that media spotlight remains focused on him. He was totally outshone by fellow radical opposition lawmakers Wong Yuk-man and Chan Wai-yip with their filibuster of the government reorganization plan last season. Now it's his turn to occupy media attention. It doesn't matter how this show ends as long as it grabs public attention for whatever the reason. Besides, his supporters are mostly of the more radical, the merrier type and he needs only to keep them happy to lock in the 60,000 votes necessary for reelection. The political cost of the filibuster against the OALA funding request is really not much for Leung, so why should he not enjoy it to the fullest?

The government has the majority of society behind it and no reason to back down on this issue. Most of the opposition parties, on the other hand, find themselves hijacked by Leung and unable to say no for fear of being seen as political deserters, at least for now. The question is how long the other opposition parties will put up with Leung, because they have little to gain and a lot to lose if they let Leung have it his way all the way.

The author is a veteran current affairs commentator. This is an excerpted translation of his column published in Wen Wei Po on Dec 6.

UBWs or home decoration?

Lai Siu-yin

Many LegCo members act very strangely, as they tend to focus on trivial things to the neglect of issues concerning people's well being. By doing so, they just waste public resources in addition to preventing the government from doing its job.

A perfect example of such mindboggling behavior can be found in the controversy over the "unauthorized building works" (UBWs) at Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying's private residence. The term "UBW" is put in quotes here because this author is not sure whether the additions/modifications in question are indeed in breach of the law, although the department concerned believes UBWs do exist in this case.

Let me ask: Who would not redecorate a newly purchased house? Is it so unthinkable to put a roof over the parking space to protect your car? Can't one build a shed for flowers that one grows, as a way to relieve mental pressure after a day's hard work? Is it a crime to change the front gate if one doesn't like it? The small room for the security guard to sit is probably the most worthy of scrutiny in this case, but is it such a big deal if it does not affect the structure of the house?

The present situation is that there is a provision in the Buildings Ordinance that one has to obtain permission from the government official in charge, before undertaking any building work in his private residence. All additions and changes made without official permission are UBWs unless they are exempt from this rule.

Most people would not think they have to apply for permission if they believe what they will do is merely "home decoration". Leung Chun-ying has explained more than once the "UBWs" in his private residence. How can he perform his duty as chief executive and tend to affairs concerning the living standards of the people, if he has to spend hours or maybe days in front of legislative councilors who are determined to bring him down at all costs?

What those high and mighty lawmakers should do right now is clearly define UBWs and home decoration or even propose an amendment to the existing ordinance if necessary. That is much more meaningful and practical.

The author is a current affairs commentator. This is an excerpted translation of his article published in Ta Kung Pao on Dec 6.

(HK Edition 12/07/2012 page3)