Pan-democratic legislators cautiously welcomed Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying’s decision to put 11 livelihood related items ahead of the budget for the Innovation and Technology Bureau (ITB), on the agenda for next week’s finance committee.

Legislator Charles Mok of the IT functional constituency, said: “This is a very rare change of the position by the government in succumbing to the request by the legislature and in particular from the pan-democrats.”

Chan Chi-yuen, legislator of one of the pan-democratic parties People Power, responded to CY Leung’s decision, saying “it should have been so long ago.”

Regarding the 11 items, Chan said: “People Power will not raise motions…considered as delaying tactics.”

“We are also confident in passing these 11 livelihood related items before the summer break.”

However, Chan said they were clearly against budgeting for the ITB, and they would aim to stop its being funded.

Liberal Party legislator Tommy Cheung Yu-yan, who chairs the finance committee, said most legislators had agreed that if these livelihood items were put first, they would not filibuster during the meeting.

CY Leung’s announcement follows criticism from pan-democrat legislators that the ITB would be prioritised above livelihood issues at the finance committee meeting. Pro-establishment legislators have also been reluctant to support the ITB.

Lee Cheuk-yan (left), Charles Mok (middle) and Emily Lau (right). Photo: via Facebook.

Yet Labour Party legistlator Lee Cheuk-yan is skeptical of CY Leung’s decision. Lee questioned whether it is simply a move to “save himself and the pro-establishment parties, by hoping to shift the focus [from the political reform voting] to livelihood issues by bribing people.”

He said: “It is a strategic retreat, but it does not mean [CY Leung] is putting down his combative mentality.”

The Information and Technology Bureau has been a contentious issue since Leung became the chief executive. The Bureau was one of Leung’s election promises in 2012. The budgeting for the Bureau was filibustered by pan-democrat legislators back in February due to legislators considering the Bureau unnecessary. The current budget application is the third time the proposal has been submitted to the LegCo.

Arthur Lo

Arthur Lo is an undergraduate student currently on a gap year. During Hong Kong's Umbrella Movement protests, he worked as a fixer, translator and producer for foreign media outlets such as Al-Jazeera.