6 January 1997

The Democratic Party Criticises China's Insistence Hong Kong People Pay for Appointed Legislature

The Democratic Party today expressed astonishment at and opposition to agreement reported after Chief Executive designate C.H. Tung's trip to China that Beijing would fund the operation of the appointed Provisional Legislature, then later claim the money back from taxpayers following the transfer of sovereignty. Party Chairman Martin Lee said asking taxpayers to foot the bill for an illegal, unwanted, appointed legislature was an affront to Hong Kong and a terrible precedent for the territory's future financial autonomy.

Democratic Party Economic Spokesman Dr. Huang Chen-ya cautioned that this situation illustrates how the public would lose oversight of government spending of taxpayer dollars without the crucial checks and balances provided by an elected legislature. But the Party added that it would support the funding of the office of the Chief Executive designate as his position was properly constituted under the Joint Declaration and the Basic Law, and encouraged the government to put forward a funding request to the Legislative Council Finance Committee.

Economic Spokesman Dr. Huang stated:

"This proposal is the clearest possible invitation for interference in Hong Kong's financial autonomy. It disregards the basic principle that the executive arm must request and the legislature must approve public spending. In fact, if Mr. Tung gets any advance money from China, he cannot take for granted that the Provisional Legislature would approve such spending -- unless he is suggesting that the Provisional Legislature is a rubber stamp.

Democratic Party Chairman Martin Lee commented:

"Hong Kong already has a lawfully constituted legislature, elected by Hong Kong citizens. Hong Kong people will rightfully ask why they should have to foot the bill for an illegal and unwanted body, which does not even operate in Hong Kong because it could not survive court challenges. This is a body set up by China, doing China's work and China should pay for it."

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