'Bargaining chip' for pan-dems

Top News | Sum Lok-kei Jul 18, 2017
Some pan-democrats could be trying to get more concessions from the government in exchange for passing additional funding for education at tomorrow's last meeting of the Finance Committee before the Legislative Council's summer recess.

The meeting provides the last chance for the education bill to pass if the new proposed subsidies for those taking specific bachelor courses are to take effect when the next academic year begins in September.

Speaking after a meeting yesterday, the pan-democrats said they had yet to agree on a particular strategy.

The Democratic Party's James To Kun-sun said the administration could address certain issues to gain support from the camp, such as extending the coverage of the HK$30,000 subsidy for DSE students who meet the minimum requirements for an undergraduate program.

The subsidy currently covers only those who apply for bachelor programs at self-financed tertiary institutes and the camp suggested that it should be expanded to those taking self-financed courses at University Grants Committee-funded universities as well. To said the move could sway a few pan- democrats into voting for the budget.

It is also understood that they want the government to hold two by- elections, one for the seats that belonged to the two Youngspiration members disqualified last year and the other for the four booted out on Friday.

The government is believed to be considering a single by-election for all six seats, an arrangement that could allow the pro-Beijing camp to gain some seats.

Secretary for Constitutional and Mainland Affairs Patrick Nip Tak-kuen said the dates for the by-elections will depend on the duration of legal proceedings and that the government is not in a position to speculate.

However, Nip added the government will take cost, manpower and availability of venues into account.

Most of the four disqualified former lawmakers remained undecided if they will launch appeals over the high court's judgment to eject them from Legco. Demosisto's Nathan Law Kwun-chung and independent politicians Lau Siu-Lai and Edward Yiu Chung-yim said they need more time to consider the odds and the timing of the by-election, while Leung Kwok-hung of the League of Social Democrats said he will appeal, despite his concern over the hefty legal costs.

Meanwhile, two pro-democracy lawmakers of the New Territories West constituency could face the "third phase of attacks from the pro-establishment camp," Eddie Chu Hoi-dick said yesterday.

Chu said he and fellow lawmaker Cheng Chung-tai are due in court next Wednesday, after the rights of judicial reviews lodged against them were modified by the plaintiff. According to Chu, the modifications had referenced judgments of lawsuits initiated by the government that ejected six lawmakers so far.

Judging from the results of past lawsuits, Chu said it is likely his seat will be challenged.

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June 2018