Chan Kin-por, chairman of the Legislative Council Finance Committee (FC), hopes to pass the supplementary funding for the local section of the Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macao Bridge within this month, citing a very pressing need.
In an exclusive interview with China Daily, Chan said the government has reshuffled the agenda by putting the HK$5.4 billion extra bridge funding ahead of other items. He has reserved five meetings before the Lunar New Year, beginning this Friday. He believes this will be sufficient for law makers to ask questions if they make proper use of the meeting time and if the opposition members do not filibuster. Chan has vowed to put the matter to the vote at the right time.
He added that government officials should give direct answers without avoiding questions. "I accept that the government, after overall consideration, gives higher priority to the bridge project in view of urgency," he explained.
"Twenty-four hours of meeting time are sufficient. Lawmakers have the right to ask questions. But when we reach a certain point, I will put the funding to vote because we can't keep on questioning without making decisions."
The Public Works Subcommittee has discussed the bridge project for about 10 hours. This means lawmakers will be barred from asking questions that were settled by the subcommittee, while questions related to policy should be asked at panel meetings but not FC meetings.
The government stresses it is essential the bridge funding be approved in January. To prepare for the worst, Chan has earmarked four extra meetings in February, including around the Lunar New Year.
Chan maintained that pursuant to the court judgment, he has the authority to combat filibusters like the Leg Cop resident. "If they do not start filibusters, I don't need to stop filibusters," he pointed out.
After the bridge project, the government will seek supplementary funding of HK$19.4 billion for the local section of the Guangzhou-Shenzhen-Hong Kong Express Rail Link.
In Chan's view, funding for the rail project, which is 75 percent complete, is politicized because it involves the co-location system.
"If the project is abandoned due to insufficient funds, Hong Kong's reputation will be tarnished apart from financial losses. Those who want to abandon it simply ignore Hong Kong's interests." he said.
Reedited by Jack Zhao
Photos from Bridge Magazine