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8th Legco Report to HKSA Council By Eric K.C. Li

I. Highlights

The historical handover of Hong Kong took place smoothly and with dignity on 1st July 1997. As expected, this momentous event had attracted wide press coverage from all over the world. Nonetheless, even the many suspicious prying eyes of the media have found the turnout of the whole event hard to criticise.

Our Chief Executive lost no time to embark on his `Speak for Hong Kong' mission. Although he might not have convinced everyone of his visions for Hong Kong Mr. Tung was clearly accepted by all as our undisputed political leader who is sincere with his intentions.

The signs about the restoration of normal trade relationship between China and Britain are coming fast and clear. The old team of `warring' diplomats from both sides are being entirely replaced; senior British politicians e.g. the Lord Chancellor now openly admits that the Provisional Legco (PLC) is a political reality; and recent press reports suggested that the Chief Executive will be visiting London in October and take the occasion to arrange for a 140 strong trade delegation from China (lead by a top leader) on a visit to U.K. in the spring of 1998.

II. Committees and Panels
1. Public Accounts Committee (PAC):
@ I was re-elected chairman of the PAC unopposed in the PLC and was warmly congratulated by the Chief Secretary in her most positive response to the last report of the PAC in the PLC sitting on 10 September 1997. She described the recommendations of PAC under my chairmanship as fair, valuable and constructive.
2. Financial Affairs Panel:
@ The Panel held 2 meetings (Agenda attached as Appendix 1): no significant item for HKSA.
3. Welfare Services Panel:
@ The Panel held 2 meetings: no significant item for HKSA.
4. Education Panel:
@ I have joined this panel in place of the Administration of Justice and Legal Services Panel. Education is set to be a priority issue for the new Administration. The Panel held 3 meetings: no significant item for HKSA.
5. Finance Committee and House Committee:
@ There were 6 meetings of Finance Committee and 19 meetings of House Committee.
@ PLC was given a list of Bills (Appendix II) by the Administration as the essential Bills to be passed by PLC. We understand that all other legislation will be withheld until we have formed the first elected Legislature of the HKSAR around mid 1998. As the list indicates, the Securities and Futures Commission (Amendment) (No. 3) Bill 1996 has been withheld as non-essential for the time being.

III. Bill Committees Joined
1. Bills of last Legco:
@ Most Bills passed as predicted in my last report to Council. However, the Legal Services Legislation (Miscellaneous Amendments) Bill 1996 went through a stormy passage and every vote and every public speech made could have tipped the fine balance. Given the flexible stance of the Council, I had given some real support to the lawyers which was much appreciated.
2. Legislative Council Bill:
@ This Bill confirms the intentions of the Preparatory Committee and left the Accountancy Functional Constituency intact. With a large number of other proposed amendments, the Bill is due to be voted upon on the 27th September 1997.

IV. Motion Debates

List attached as Appendix III. Speeches on my web page and highlights will be published in my circular to members.

V. General Political Background

The 15th NPC meeting, the World Bank meeting next week and the maiden Policy Address by the Chief Executive will set the scene for the coming few months.

The HKSAR has calmly sailed through a major currency crisis of the `Asia Pacific region and another mini-upheaval in the Securities market. It seems that little else will threw her off course for a while. Domestic `bread and butter' issues, for a change, might just return to the centre of Hong Kong's politics as the preparation for the 1998 elections warm up amongst potential candidates and the growing number of political parties all trying to find their own distinctive political identities.


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