China right to slam stalling tactics by Hong Kong's opposition lawmakers: Carrie Lam

HONG KONG (XINHUA) – Hong Kong’s Chief Executive Carrie Lam on Tuesday (April 14) refuted the accusation that comments by the central government and its liaison office in the territory on the malfunctioning of Hong Kong’s legislature constitute interference.

“I see no ground for that sort of accusation,” Mrs Lam said when answering a question at a press conference.

The Cabinet-level Hong Kong and Macau Affairs Office on Monday urged Hong Kong’s Legislative Council (LegCo) to resume normal operation as soon as possible and condemned “despicable tactics” used by some opposition lawmakers to paralyse the legislature for personal political gains.

The Liaison Office of the Central People’s Government in Hong Kong also condemned some LegCo members who maliciously filibustered and delayed the discussion for multiple Bills related to people’s livelihood and the fight against Covid-19 outbreak.

Mrs Lam on Tuesday dismissed pan-democratic politicians’ cries of “interference” after Beijing’s two top offices in charge of Hong Kong affairs accused them of abusing their power in the LegCo.

“I want to refute categorically any accusation that such comments made by the two offices constitute interference,” she said.

“The central authorities have given Hong Kong a high degree of autonomy, but that doesn’t mean that the central government has given up its power and authority on Hong Kong affairs,” she noted.

The central government has always been very supportive of the Hong Kong government in improving livelihood and promoting Hong Kong’s economic development, she said.

“So when they (the two offices) see this very bizarre situation in which the LegCo is almost malfunctioning because the House Committee has not been able to elect a chairman for over six months, I find it only legitimate for them to express their concern,” said Mrs Lam at the press conference which was supposed to focus on the HK$137.5 billion (S$25 billion) coronavirus financial relief package that she rolled out last week.

The House Committee sets the agenda for weekly Council meetings by deciding on the dates when various Bills are to be put forward for a final vote.

Mrs Lam went on to point out that some LegCo members have urged foreign governments to comment on Hong Kong affairs and even called for sanctions on Hong Kong. That, she noted, can actually be called interference.

She said many functions of the LegCo including the making of legislation have not been discharged since October last year, which is unacceptable.

Mrs Lam noted that the stalled Bills concerned issues such as extension of maternity leave, fire safety and tax reduction.

With the current session of the LegCo due to end in July, Bills that could not be passed by that time will become invalid and all the efforts will be wasted, she warned.

The Hong Kong government would have carried out better anti-epidemic operations if there were more cohesiveness, unity and solidarity, she said, calling for an end to political disputes to help Hong Kong weather out the pandemic as soon as possible.

Opposition lawmakers are gearing up to seize majority control of Legco in an election slated for September, the South China Morning Post reported, as opposition parties are boosted by social unrest and public dissatisfaction especially among the younger Hong Kong people.

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