Legislative president Andrew Leung has defended Chief Executive John Lee’s request to narrow the scope of his upcoming question and answer session with lawmakers, saying it was normal practice and dismissing criticism that it was “belittling” the legislature.
Leung met the press on Tuesday at the legislative complex, confirming that the secretariat received a letter from the administration asking lawmakers to focus on seven areas during Wednesday’s Q&A.
The seven areas included land and housing supply; the Covid-19 pandemic; promoting Hong Kong; “telling Hong Kong’s story well;” innovation and technology development; youth development; and environmental hygiene and cityscape.
Some of the topics were highlighted by Chinese leader Xi Jinping during his visit to Hong Kong last week to inaugurate Lee.
The city’s self-declared non-establishment lawmaker Tik Chi-yuen criticised the arrangement, saying it “belittled” the role of the legislature to keep the government in check.
Without naming names, Leung hit back at Tik’s remark, saying the chief executive was entitled to make such a request as stated in the Legislative Council’s (LegCo) house rules. He said previous leaders did not specify topics, but it did not mean the practice was “out of the ordinary.”
The president said it was not a case of over-bearance under the executive-led principle: “First of all, it’s focused on these areas – [it] doesn’t mean that it’s limited to these areas. Secondly… if members ask questions outside those focus area, normally as the president, I will allow them to ask those questions. and [the chief executive], as I would guess, would also gladly answer those questions,” Leung said.
Leung added that the seven areas were “hot topics” and that “meaningful results” could be generated from the Q&A session.
Lee’s predecessor Carrie Lam attended the session on a monthly basis, though it was temporarily paused owing to protests in the chamber from pro-democracy lawmakers.
It is not known yet whether Lee will make the meeting a monthly routine at the “patriots only” legislature. He has also faced criticism for favouring state-backed media when accepting interviews.
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