Lawmakers finally pass rail terminus motion - RTHK
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Lawmakers finally pass rail terminus motion

2017-11-15 HKT 17:03
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  • Lawmakers finally pass rail terminus motion
Legco has passed a non-binding motion supporting the government's plan to allow the mainland to run part of the express rail terminus at West Kowloon.

The pro-democracy camp argue that allowing mainland laws to be enforced on Hong Kong soil will be unconstitutional. But a filibustering campaign that dragged out debate over the past three weeks couldn't block the motion's passage in the end.

Eight amendments to the motion moved by the camp were all voted down.

Wrapping up the debate, transport minister Frank Chan said in coming up with the plan it was essential for officials to protect the security and safety of both Hong Kong and the mainland.

Democratic Party veteran James To said that was the first time an official had talked of the plan involving national security.

"If the underground of the West Kowloon terminal is a very strategic location for any operation of national security, then it begs the question will the arrangement undermine One Country, Two Systems... I think it is a very serious question that the government must answer immediately," To said.

Security Secretary John Lee explained that by national security, the government meant the safety and security of all passengers travelling on the express rail network.

Critics have accused the government of ignoring public opinion on the controversial plan. But the government said its Legco motion was the perfect way to gauge people's opinions.

Land Justice League lawmaker Chu Hoi-dick complained after the vote that Legco had been used as "a rubber stamp". He said the government had sought to create the false impression that society had come to a consensus on the rail station plan, adding "definitely, the opposite is true".

Secretary for Justice Rimsky Yuen said the government will seek to sign a cooperation arrangement on the plan with Beijing soon, so that the National People's Congress Standing Committee can endorse it by the end of the year.

Yuen said he cannot disclose details about the cooperation arrangement for now.

"The cooperation arrangement is yet to be approved or endorsed by the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress so we would have to consider how best to deal with the disclosure of the contents," Yuen explained.

Chief Executive Carrie Lam earlier suggested she would not wait too long to get Legco's blessing for the rail station arrangements and said the government might just start the process of implementing the plan even before a vote was taken.