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Lam hopes for progress with closer LegCo ties

By Gang Wen in Hong Kong | | Updated: 2021-02-06 00:04
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Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor speaks during the Chief Executive's Question and Answer Session at the Legislative Council in Hong Kong on Feb 4, 2021. [EDMOND TANG / CHINA DAILY]

Hong Kong Chief Executive Car­rie Lam Cheng Yuet­-ngor expects closer cooperation with the Legisla­tive Council for the remainder of her administration's term to face the daunting challenges ahead, which include reviving a battered economy and improving people's living stan­dards.

During a question-­and-­answer session in the city's legislature on Thursday, Lam said that now the leg­islature has resumed functioning normally, she hopes it will continue to work in coordination with the executive by providing checks and balances.

Without a functioning legislature that works with the government, many bills the government planned to present lately would not previous­ly have a chance to be brought in, the city's leader said.

Lam said the government will pro­pose five legislative amendments this year, which include requiring district councilors to swear alle­giance to the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region.

The draft amendment of the oath­ taking requirement is expected to be put in front of lawmakers for delib­eration after the Lunar New Year. Lam said draft work on the legisla­tion has entered the final stage.

She added that the government will rigorously follow up on breaches of oaths after the implementation of the arrangement, noting that the handling of district funds in the past year by some councilors was "far from satisfying".

Since assuming office at the end of 2019, some opposition district coun­cilors were criticized for abusing public resources to serve their politi­cal purposes.

According to an investigative report released by the District Coun­cils Observers watchdog organiza­tion in December, some councilors from the opposition camp used pub­lic funds to favor organizations set up by the camp, and support activi­ties advocating radical political ideas. The District Councils Observ­ers was set up by the Democratic Alliance for the Betterment and Progress of Hong Kong, the city's largest political party.

The government is also consider­ing introducing a legislative amend­ment to empower the city's privacy watchdog to carry out criminal investigations into doxxing activi­ties, which saw the personal data of hundreds of police officers, mem­bers of the judiciary, and residents and their family members being leaked because they had a different political viewpoint during the year­ long social unrest.

This would give the Office of the Privacy Commissioner for Personal Data statutory powers to demand the removal of doxxing content from social media platforms or websites.

Another amendment the govern­ment will propose is to allow quali­fied overseas-­trained doctors to practice in Hong Kong to ease an acute shortage of doctors needed to treat the aging population.

Those eligible doctors need to be Hong Kong permanent residents, with a recognized overseas medical degree, and won't be permitted to go into private practice once they get approval to practice in Hong Kong.

Other amendments include introducing rent control of sub-divided residential units, and enhancing fire safety in old buildings.

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