April 28, 1999

Democrats Walk Out of Legislative Session Over Government Plan to Abolish Local Government Bodies

The Democratic Party's Legislative Council delegation walked out of the Legco Wednesday session over the Hong Kong government introduction of legislation to abolish municipal councils -- elected bodies responsible for a variety of local issues including sanitation, public health, arts and recreation. The Democrats' protest came as Constitutional Affairs Secretary Michael Suen stood to present the government's case for the legislation, called the Provision of Municipal Services (Reorganization) Bill. The government is proceeding despite widespread public opposition to the bill, and to the government's recent move to add appointed seats to the district boards, the most local of Hong Kong's government bodies.

Vice Chairman Yeung Sum and Legislative Councillor Fred Li led the walkout.

Afterward, Fred Li commented:

The government's plans to abolish the elected municipal councils and restore their functions to the bureaucracy is a huge blow to democratic development and government accountability. Mr. Tung is substituting his judgment and those of a few government appointees for the mandate of the people.

We will fight this effort actively throughout the legislative process and keep fighting to keep Hong Kong democracy on track, and Hong Kong government open to the people.

Yeung Sum commented:

The Hong Kong government doesn't really believe this will improve the delivery of services to the people -- it is simply dedicated to the abolition of democratic institutions.

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