Legislators on Friday took up a suggestion by Chief Executive Carrie Lam and set up a Legco sub-committee to help fast track looming legal changes to Hong Kong's electoral system, even though Beijing has yet to reveal exactly what it has in store for the territory.
Thirty-seven of the council's remaining lawmakers backed the idea at a House Committee meeting, with the new panel to morph into a regular bills committee after the National People's Congress Standing Committee changes Annexes 1 and 2 of the Basic Law.
Cheng Chung-tai from Civic Passion, who was the only Legco member to oppose the panel move, said even though such an arrangement has been adopted before, it doesn't mean this is the right way of doing things.
"We still need to have a concrete document before we legally and legitimately start the formal procedure in Hong Kong. The current proposal is more or less like an opinion meeting, rather than a formal meeting," Cheng said.
"It seems like the government is trying to have a kind of agenda-setting. They can just say that they have already responded to your opinion, before they present the formal document."
But the other lawmakers disagreed, saying the legislature is on a tight schedule and needs to vet the amendments before elections are held.
"We are all experienced lawmakers. Before we start working on the blue bill, we usually devote some time to discuss the legislative intent and the policies. This will not touch on the legislation itself, however this will certainly take some time. If we set up a sub-committee to start this aspect of the work early, I believe there will be a huge benefit to our amendment exercise," the DAB's Gary Chan said.
Pro-government lawmaker Paul Tse said he could not accept Cheng’s claim that there is no legal document available on the matter, saying the decision laid down by the National People’s Congress on March 11 is already a "solemn document".