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HKFP Person of the Month, July 2016: Medical sector lawmaker Leung Ka-lau

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A Hong Kong newsmaker is chosen each month by HKFP. Click here to view previous nominees. Mr Leung Ka-lau is selected as HKFP’s Person of the Month for July 2016.

Person of the Month leung ka lau

In 2008, medical sector lawmaker Leung Ka-lau became the first public doctor to be elected as a lawmaker, and he has held the seat ever since. Two years before his LegCo bid, Leung sued the Hospital Authority on behalf of 165 public hospital doctors for compensation regarding rest days, holidays and overtime, and won on the first two claims.

Leung is an independent and has not claimed affiliation to any political party. He is mostly seen as a pro-establishment lawmaker, but has sided with both pro-establishment and pro-democracy camps on different issues. He voted against the political reform package last year.

Leung has been a prominent opponent of the Medical Registration (Amendment) Bill 2016, which proposed changing the makeup of the Medical Council by adding four additional lay members – meaning people from outside the medical profession – to the council.

The four would be nominated by sectors which represent patients’ and consumers’ interests before being appointed by the Chief Executive. Meanwhile, two members who are currently nominated by the Hong Kong Academy of Medicine and appointed by the Chief Executive will instead be elected by the 26-member council of the academy.

Dozens of doctors and medical students have staged sit-ins outside the Legislative Council to protest the bill, expressing 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 the council would enable the government’s plan to pass more easily.

Leung Ka-lau

Leung Ka-lau. File Photo: Stand News.

‘One-man filibuster’

Last month, Leung submitted 112,000 amendments to the bill, all of which were rejected by Legislative Council President Jasper Tsang Yok-sing. In order to filibuster and stall the progress of the bill, Leung has been constantly calling for headcounts in the chamber, and has come under fire from both pan-democratic and pro-Beijing lawmakers.

Leung met with both government officials and patient organisations which support the bill, and said that while both parties mentioned that there was room for discussion, the government’s attitude remained firm and there may be political aims behind the bill.

He voted against the amendments to the bill during the second reading earlier this month, and although the bill passed, it failed to complete the third reading before the end of the last Legislative Council session due to continuous filibustering efforts, mostly by Leung.

Leung was a general surgeon at the Prince of Wales Hospital in Sha Tin from 1986 to 2010. Following his departure from the Hospital Authority, he started his own clinic. Leung will no longer be running for another term in the legislature in order to make money to support his family.

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HKFP Person of the Month, July 2016: Medical sector lawmaker Leung Ka-lau