Tuesday, 6 December 2016

Tsang's Embarrassing U-Turn

John Tsang told Legco he would not answer questions from four pan-dems
Following the total takedown of two localist lawmakers, Yau Wai-ching and Sixtus Baggio Leung Chung-hang, the Hong Kong government is gunning for four more pan-democrats, but the lack of support has led to the Leung Chung-ying administration having to back down.

Yesterday Financial Secretary John Tsang Chun-wah refused to take questions in the legislature from "Long Hair" Leung Kwok-hung, Nathan Law Kwun-chung, Edward Yiu Chung-yim and Lau Siu-lai, citing advice from lawyers to doubt their status as legislators.

Edward Yiu, Nathan Law, Leung Kwok-hung and Lau Siu-lai
The announcement stunned the Legislative Council panel meeting yesterday morning, drawing objections and concerns from all sides, as the High Court hasn't even started hearing the government's case for having the four kicked out of Legco.

Some pan-democrats accused Tsang of overstepping his bounds to impress Beijing following his earlier hint he may run for the top job next year.

But then by the afternoon, the government did a U-turn, when even the pro-establishment parties questioned the justification for shunning the four.

"The administration will address inquiries from all lawmakers without changing its legal stance over the four lawmakers," said Legco's House Committee chairwoman Starry Lee Wai-king, quoting Chief Secretary Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor after a meeting with her.

Carrie Lam reversed the government's stance by the afternoon
Even Legco President Andrew Leung Kwan-yuen expressed surprise at Tsang's stance, saying the four should still be regarded as lawmakers until the court ruling. He said the government should stick to a letter he received from Lam that said public officers would only respond to questions from members who have "duly taken the Legco oath in accordance with the law".

It is understood that even Leung Chun-ying didn't know Tsang's position in the morning, though the finance minister said it was based on a collective decision of the government after legal advice was received on Sunday night.

Tsang later said he agreed with the reversed decision made by Lam and Lee.

What is going on? Is there no communication between officials on their position on things? And where are they getting their legal advice from? Sounds childish not to respond to any lawmakers' inquiries, even if you plan to launch a suit against them. Did no one bring up this point during the meeting on Sunday evening?

Many critics are saying Leung Chun-ying is pushing his luck in trying to unseat four more legislators -- what have they legally done wrong? They seem completely mild mannered compared to two young people who swore and promoted independence while taking their oaths...

In any case, perhaps the cracks are even more prevalent in the Leung administration, where at least one, maybe two officials are gunning for their boss' job in 2017...

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