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2017.12.18

 

Amending the Rules of Procedure

to Curtail LegCo Members’ Monitoring Power

Dear Members,

At this festive reason, let me wish you a Merry Christmas, peace, joy and good health.

In the past few weeks, pro-establishment members proposed a large number of amendments – the largest ever in recent years – to the Rules of Procedure, a démarche launched during the ‘unfilled period’ following the disqualification of several democratic LegCo members, with the intent of passing the amendments before completion of the by-elections so as to curtail the monitoring power of the minority.

To be fair, filibustering over the past few years in LegCo has indeed made some of our citizens feel sick and tired of it and find this tool abused. In the past, I rarely took part in so-called filibustering activities. All along, I have been affirming what is right, criticizing what is wrong, saying what needs to be said and refraining from unnecessary wrangling.

However, the current amendments to the Rules of Procedure proposed by the pro-establishment camp are obviously a démarche calculated to take advantage of the democratic camp’s misfortunes and a case of the majority abusing its supremacy against the minority. This seriously damages the long-time tradition of respecting the minority and indeed goes beyond my bottom line. Pro-establishment President Andrew LEUNG Kwan-yuen has also failed to act impartially. On the one hand, he strictly compresses to a mere 15 minutes the time within which a member is allowed to speak on the proposed amendments, which run to as many as 49 items and, on the other hand, infinitely prolongs the meeting, the intent being to force the passage of the amendments before Christmas.

The real purpose is to curtail members’ monitoring power

Whilst the amendments to the Rules of Procedure proposed by the pro-establishment camp are ostensibly for the purpose of preventing filibustering, they are actually meant to curtail members’ monitoring power. Among the proposed amendments, the most obvious one is raising the threshold for the presentation of a petition – leading to the establishment of a select committee – from 20 members ‘rising’ in their place to 35 members. Select committees so established in the past include the one investigating the suspicion over the then Commissioner of the Independent Commission Against Corruption Timothy TONG Hin-ming having accepted gift items, and the one investigating the UGL case involving the then Chief Executive LEUNG Chun-ying. Once the threshold for the presentation of a petition is raised, it will certainly make it impossible for the democratic camp to establish select committees to investigate matters of injustice. Obviously, the proposed amendments have nothing to do with ‘anti-filibustering’. Basically, this is a case of the majority abusing its supremacy and violently destroying the platform for fair and equitable debates that has existed all along!

All the amendments proposed by the pro-establishment camp were passed on last friday, to which we can only give a resigned sigh. Nevertheless, we will continue to do our best to safeguard parliamentary justice. Any views that you may have could be emailed to me at [email protected] At a time when autumn meets winter and when it is getting cooler, please keep warm and I wish you good health!

Expressing objection to amending the Rules of Procedure: video at Legislative Council meeting (7 December 2017)

Amending the Rules of Procedure to Curtail LegCo Members’ Monitoring Power
Opposing the resumption of
Primary 3 TSA
Attending a forum organized by Project Citizens Foundation
Attending a Seminar organized by Savantas Policy Institute: Controversy on Hong Kong’s Independence Snapshots Speeches

Opposing the resumption of Primary 3 TSA


In November, PTU conducted a ‘TSA Questionnaire Survey’ with primary school teachers who teach the major subjects. Findings of the survey show that 80% of our teachers are opposed to the resumption of Primary 3 TSA. Similarly, 80% of our teachers are concerned over the increase of pressure on drills. These findings reflect that teachers consider ineffective the measures taken under the ‘pilot study’. It is imperative that the Government carefully listen to the views of frontline teachers.

Even though EDB has not yet announced whether or not there will be a resumption of Primary 3 TSA for the current academic year, as many as 40% of our teachers have already prepared materials for drills and remedial classes. This robustly refutes EDB’s claim of having successfully eliminated incentives for drills.

The Chief Executive should accept not only what the TSA Review Committee claims to be a comprehensive review. She should establish another committee, one that is truly representative, enjoys a high degree of credibility, and comprises scholars, principals, teachers and parents who have diverse views. The committee should review, once again, the core problems of TSA as well as the entire culture of drills with a view to enabling Hong Kong’s education to return to its proper track and giving back to our children a happy childhood.

Attending a forum organized by Project Citizens Foundation

On 2 December, Project Citizens Foundation organized a forum named ‘Hong Kong’s Primary and Secondary Education: Are we on the Right Track?’. Apart from me, speakers at the forum included Professor CHENG Kai-ming, Principal LEE Suet-ying, Senior Lecturer CHAN Sik-chee and teacher LIU Sze-ming. From different perspectives, we examined problems facing our secondary and primary school education.

I mentioned that education reform, which started in 2000, was introduced with good intentions, aiming to achieve a lot for the next generation. During the process, however, changes and alienations occurred, resulting in sufferings by the new generation, of which TSA is a good example. Another example perplexing parents is the whole-day class. In those days, the whole-day class was considered a remarkably great thing and should be achieved even when the number of students per class had to be increased. The whole-day class was regarded as conducive to whole-person education. Nowadays, however, parents find it oppressive.

Two months ago, I published a ‘Preview of Education Policies’, in which I submitted to the Government quite a number of proposals. Colleagues may like to refer to it. Comments are most welcome.

 

Attending a Seminar organized by Savantas Policy Institute: Controversy on Hong Kong’s Independence

Upon Savantas Policy Institute’s invitation, I attended earlier this month their seminar entitled ‘National Education and Chinese History: Controversy on Hong Kong’s Independence and Young People recognizing their Nationality’. Independence of Hong Kong is an issue which absolutely can be discussed; we should not say that there is no room for its discussion.

Those also present at the seminar included Jasper TSANG Yok-sing, former President of LegCo; Regina IP Lau Suk-yee, LegCo member belonging to the New People’s Party; Tommy Cheung Sau-yin, former President of Chinese University’s Students Union; and Professor Joseph CHAN Cho-wai of HKU’s Department of Politics and Public Administration.

I said that based on a recognition of the Chinese nation and Chinese culture, I agree to the implementation of national education but stressed that this must be consistent with the principles of civic education, which include helping our students to learn both the bright side and the gloomy side of China and to do so in a comprehensive and multi-perspective manner. The mainland’s education of patriotism must never be directly copied and imposed on Hong Kong. Apart from cultivating a sense of belonging to the country, national education should also equip our students with independent thinking and a comprehensive understanding of history. Our students should be taught not only the achievements of our country but also its deficiencies. The contents should be comprehensive and free from bias and partiality.

Visit by the European Parliament

A delegation from the European Parliament visited LegCo on 5 December. It happened that the delegation leader, Mr Jo Leinen, was the Chairman of the European Parliament’s Constitutional Affairs Committee and hence conversant with parliamentary rules of procedure. He said, “When it comes to changing the rules of procedure, Parliaments of European countries invariably have a lot of respect for the minorities and give everyone sufficient time to air his/her views. This is our philosophy!” Why can’t our pro-establishment members be equally broad-minded?

Meeting with EDB: provision of barrier-free facilities in schools

As dozens of our schools are still deprived of lifts, I had a working meeting earlier on with Deputy Secretary for Education WONG Hok-ling and her staff and submitted case files of some schools to directly reflect the needs and justifications for the installation of lifts in schools. I hope that EDB will take follow-up actions soonest possible.

Responding to Professor Xiang ZHANG’s candidacy for HKU’s new President and Vice-Chancellor

In an email to teaching staff, students and alumni, HKU announced on 13 December that the Selection Committee for the next President and Vice-Chancellor has recommended Professor Xiang ZHANG, a Chinese American scientist as the next President and Vice-Chancellor. Some alumni have expressed to me the following concerns: The new President and Vice-Chancellor must have excellent academic standing and leadership, be a person of integrity, have a global vision, demonstrate management capability and possess effective interpersonal and communication skills. While Professor ZHANG has excellent academic standing, it appears that he may not have adequate management skills and experience and hence alumni are concerned about his competence to be HKU’s President and Vice-Chancellor. Alumni are also concerned about his determination to defend academic freedom and institutional autonomy.

Meeting with Deputy Director of Housing: management problems in Shan King Estate, Tuen Mun

Together with the Hon SHIU Ka-chun, I had a meeting with Deputy Director of Housing Rosaline WONG Lai-ping to follow up on management problems which have been plaguing schools and social welfare agencies in Shan King Estate, Tuen Mun. We urged the authorities to exercise their influence as a large proprietor to ensure that schools and social welfare agencies are able to make good use of the facilities in the Estate to serve the public.

25 November 2017: meeting of the Subcommittee on Children's Rights
The Government should examine the causes of pressure on students

1 December 2017: meeting of the Panel on Education
The Government should review procedures and policies on the building of university dormitories

6 December 2017: meeting of the Legislative Council Concern over EDB’s role when students are disturbed by political propaganda

Representative of Hong Kong Professional Teachers’ Union
in Legislative Council,
Hon IP Kin-yuen
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葉建源議員辦事處 Office of Legislative Councillor Ip Kin Yuen (Education Constituency)
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