Pro-democracy lawmakers have been told by the Legislative Council Secretariat that the question they intend to put forward in the Legislative Council on the controversial joint checkpoint arrangement for the Express Rail Link will likely be rejected.
Lawmakers Charles Mok, Andrew Wan and Tanya Chan told the media on Wednesday that they had intended on submitting a question to seek answers from the government in the legislative session on October 18.
However, Mok said that Chief Executive Carrie Lam’s announcement had announced on Tuesday that the government will put forward a motion debate on October 25 in support of the joint checkpoint arrangement: “In accordance with the Rules of Procedure, the [Legislative Council] Secretariat told us it’s very likely that because of this, the president will not allow us to put forward the question,” he said.
“Since we’ve already submitted it, it means that we will probably lose the opportunity to question as well,” Mok said. He added that this will greatly affect the public’s interest, especially their right to know. Mok said the public will not be able to obtain more information from the government before a motion involving “fake public opinion” is passed.
Wan added that it set a bad precedent and showed a loophole in the mechanism when lawmakers seek further information on controversial issues. “Does this mean that in the future, any official can simply say that they are about to put forward a motion, and lawmakers will no longer be allowed to ask any questions?”
Although Lam’s proposed motion will be non-binding, Lam said that the government will go ahead and start procedures needed to implement the arrangement after the motion is debated. The motion is likely to pass as the pro-Beijing camp, which supports the arrangement, holds a majority.
The arrangement will involve “leasing” land to China and effectively giving up Hong Kong jurisdiction across a quarter of the West Kowloon terminus for faster immigration procedures performed by mainland law enforcement agents.