The government has altered its proposed amendments submitted to the Legislative Council on Tuesday to “maintain balance” in the formation of the Medical Council following criticism from the medical field. However, lawmakers from the medical field suggest that positions should be elected by their 7,000 members.

The first of the two amendments proposed by the Food and Health Bureau suggest that two members who are currently nominated by the Hong Kong Academy of Medicine and appointed by the Chief Executive, Leung Chun-ying, should instead be elected by the council of the academy.

Lawmaker Leung Ka-lau. Photo: Legislative Council Webcast screenshot.

The second amendment proposes that the four additional lay members – meaning people outside the medical profession – should be nominated by sectors which represent patients’ and consumers’ interests, before being appointed by the Chief Executive.

Previously, the government itself suggested the addition of four lay members, all to be appointed by the Chief Executive. This was met with discontent, with medics opposing the increase of lay members without a similar increase of members from the medical community, in a statement published in local newspapers in early March.

With the previous proposed amendment, however, the number of lay and appointed members is set to be increased from 14 to 18, as members from the medical community will remain at 14. Prior to the proposed change, the two groups each took up half of the seats on the council.

The new proposed amendment will see lay and appointed members, as well as members elected by the medical community, reach 16. However, the two newly proposed elected positions will only be elected by the 26-member council of the Hong Kong Academy of Medicine.

Lawmaker Kwok Ka-ki. Photo: Legislative Council Webcast screenshot.

Pro-democracy Civic Party lawmaker Kwok Ka-ki said: “There is a little bit of deception here. The academy is an institution with very high barriers. Not every doctor is part of the academy… This [proposed] election by the council is not very different from right now, where they discuss to nominate members.”

Lawmaker Leung Ka-Lau, who represents the medical constituency, also told Mingpao that he does not support elections through the academy as it is not an institution that every doctor can join. He said that he supported the election of four medical council members through more open elections.

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Chantal Yuen

Chantal Yuen is a Hong Kong journalist interested in issues dealing with religion and immigration. She majored in German and minored in Middle Eastern studies at Princeton University.