Lawmaker Leung Ka-lau told local media that he will continue to buy time in legislative council meetings as a bill proposing changes to the Medical Council of Hong Kong goes through its second reading. Leung called for almost 20 head counts in the Legco meeting on Wednesday to delay the vote.
The amendment proposes the addition of four lay-members – meaning those outside the medical profession – to the council to speed up the complaints hearing process. Dr. Wong Yee-him told HKFP at a protest last Wednesday that the change will not improve efficiency because “the majority of all the people sitting at the hearing have to be doctors”. Some doctors are also concerned that the addition of lay-members will only allow the government to control the council more easily.
Leung, a pro-democracy lawmaker representing the medical functional constituency, said that he has met with both government officials and patient organisations which support the bill. Both parties mentioned that there was room for discussion, Leung said. However, he added that the government’s attitude remains strong and there may be political aims behind the bill.
He also said on a radio programme on RTHK on Wednesday that although pro-democracy Civic Party lawmaker Dr. Kwok Ka-ki’s amendments promote balance in the council, they “ultimately do not solve the problems within the Medical Council,” and will not improve efficiency. Kwok proposed three amendments, including adding more elected members to the body to maintain a balance between lay-members and members from the medical field.
‘Leave Hong Kong alone’
Pro-democracy Democratic Party lawmaker Emily Lau told local media on Wednesday that Leung should “leave Hong Kong alone” and that there were other issues that needed discussion, such as fire safety and an amendment on laws overseeing columbaria.
She said that she was worried and angry and hoped the discussion could continue. She also said that most lawmakers did not support what Leung is doing and hope he will stop.
Meanwhile, Chief Secretary of Administration Carrie Lam Cheng Yuen-ngor told reporters on Wednesday that “this bill is as important, if not more important, than the two other bills… because this is a bill about every one of us, because one day we will be sick.”
Lam also said that the bill will relieve doctor shortages in public hospitals and that she will ask Leung to “reflect sincerely and seriously on the public interest.”
The Medical Association, which initiated the protest last Wednesday, protested outside the Legislative Council again this Wednesday. Dr. Paul Au Yiu-kai told RTHK that they will a hold a sit-in on Thursday as well.