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.

andrew leung
LegCo President Andrew Leung met the press on July 5, 2022. Photo: RTHK screenshot.

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.

Hong Kong Economic Journal and Ming Pao reported on Monday that Lee set the limitations for his first session as chief executive.

John Lee Exco Executive council Regina Yip
Chief Executive John Lee met the press ahead of an Executive Council meeting on July 5, 2022. Photo: Lea Mok/HKFP

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.

‘Belittling’ LegCo

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.

Legislative Council
Legislative Council. Photo: Kelly Ho/HKFP.

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.

Carrie Lam 2020 Policy Address
Carrie Lam attends a Q&A session at the Legislative Council on November 26, 2020. Photo: Kelly Ho/HKFP.

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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Almond Li is a Hong Kong-based journalist who previously worked for Reuters and Happs TV as a freelancer, and as a reporter at Hong Kong International Business Channel, Citizen News and Commercial Radio Hong Kong. She earned her Masters in Journalism at the University of Southern California. She has an interest in LGBT+, mental health and environmental issues.