Two pro-Beijing lawmakers are going head to head in the race for chairmanship of the Legislative Council’s House Committee.

The incumbent chairman, Andrew Leung Kwan-yuen of the pro-establishment Business and Professionals Alliance for Hong Kong (BPA) looked to continue his chairmanship with the support the pro-Beijing camp. However, lawmaker Tommy Cheung Yu-yan of the pro-Beijing Liberal Party will run for the chairmanship in the LegCo new term, he told the Hong Kong Economic Times.

Cheung said that his party’s lawmakers held the position from 2000 to 2012 and that “it is time for the Liberal Party to do it again.”

When asked whether he would consider running for the vice-chairman post instead, he said: “At my age, I am not going to be a vice-chairman of anything.”

Andrew Leung (left) and Tommy Cheung (right).
Andrew Leung (left) and Tommy Cheung (right). Photo: WikiCommons and Apple Daily.

The House Committee prepares for meetings and considers matters relating to the business of the LegCo. One important function of the House Committee is to scrutinise bills introduced, plus subsidiary legislation tabled at meetings or presented to LegCo for approval.

An unnamed pan-democrat lawmaker told Apple Daily that if Cheung manages to gain the support of 26 pan-democrats, plus five Liberal Party lawmakers and three to four independent lawmakers, it can mean that the Liberal Party will have the upper hand in negotiations with other pro-Beijing parties such as the BPA, the DAB and the Federation of Trade Unions.

The lawmaker also said pan-democrats could join forces with the Liberal Party and gain strategic advantage in their discussions with pro-Beijing parties.

Rivalry between Liberal Party and BPA 

Although Tommy Cheung Yu-yan said that he did not want the race to be seen as Liberal Party and BPA “settling old scores,” the two parties have a history of rivalries.

Four members of the BPA, including Andrew Leung Kwan-yuen, left the Liberal Party in 2008 after its defeat in the LegCo election.

In June, a group of pro-Beijing lawmakers walked out of LegCo during a vote on the government’s political reform package in order to force a 15-minute recess—a compulsory break in proceedings if fewer than half of the lawmakers are present—which would have allowed pro-Beijing lawmaker Lau Wong-fat, who was late, to arrive in time for the vote. However, five Liberal Party lawmakers including its leader James Tien were not informed of the decision to leave the chamber en masse and remained inside for the vote.

After the incident, Cheung said that veteran lawmakers should know LegCo rules better. Tien commented that “incurably dumb” people were to blame.

Kris Cheng

Kris Cheng

Kris Cheng is a Hong Kong journalist with an interest in local politics. His work has been featured in Washington Post, Public Radio International, Hong Kong Economic Times and others. He has a BSSc in Sociology from the Chinese University of Hong Kong. Kris is HKFP's Editorial Director.