The second reading of the Legislative Council’s proposal to reform the Medical Council of Hong Kong was suspended on Wednesday due to an insufficient number of lawmakers in the chamber. The reading was postponed until next Wednesday.
The government previously submitted a bill which suggested adding four lay people – individuals who are not doctors – to the Medical Council. Proponents for the bill argued that it would speed up the processing of medical complaints, while opponents say it would make no significant difference.
Dozens of doctors and medical students staged a sit-in outside the Legislative Council on Wednesday in protest of the bill. They have pledged to return next Wednesday.
Many protesters expressed concern over the government’s proposal to introduce more overseas-trained doctors to the city under more relaxed entry requirements. They said that adding four non-doctor members to council would allow the government’s plan to go pass more easily.
Dr. Alvin Chan Yee-shing, vice-president of The Hong Kong Medical Association, told RTHK that he hoped the council would maintain a one-to-one ratio between members within the medical profession and those who are not.
Jasper Tsang Yok-sing, president of the Legislative Council, expressed regret over the suspension of the reading. He said the Legislative Council performed 15 roll calls that lasted three-and-a-half-hours – half of the council’s meeting time on Wednesday.
Tsang added that the Legislative Council still had more than 50 hours of meeting time before it breaks for the summer in two weeks. He said he believed the council could still go through the three remaining bills on agenda, including one which proposed reforms to the Medical Council.
“If there are some members who are determined to obstruct the proper function of the [Legislative] Council, then no matter how much… additional time we have – it’s meaningless,” said Tsang.
Doctor Leung Ka-lau, representing the medical functional constituency, said the reading’s suspension was not necessarily a bad development, as it provided more time to discuss the amendment.