|By Ling Pak-ki, University of Hong Kong|
Tension between executive and legislative power is on the rise. Serious conflict between the radical pro-democratic parties and the government has blocked progress on constitutional reform. Meanwhile, a survey conducted by the University of Hong Kong Public Opinion Programme found the average score rating Legislative Council members' performance was far from satisfactory. The chief executive fared just as badly.
The government has long been criticised for its low efficiency and lack of consultation. It would rather spend huge sums of money employing professional consultants to prepare policy proposals than devote more resources to public consultation and promotion of the new policies. This month, the government announced many important new measures and policies. They include new guidelines on real estate sales, suggestions for democratic reform, and a ban on vehicles sitting idle with their engines running.
All these measures were specially arranged to be announced or discussed within a month, without consultation, in an effort to dilute public reaction.
However, the government's lack of consultation is not a solid reason for Legislative Council members becoming powerless.
Theoretically, Legislative Council members should represent their voters - the public, channel their opinions and supervise the Executive Council.
Hong Kong's political system is dominated by the Executive Council, which creates a situation whereby Legislative Council members do not possess the practical power to perform their duties. However, this is not an excuse for underperformance.
They should be wholeheartedly fighting for the public's rights instead of trying to simply further their political careers.
The two councils should be mindful that they are interdependent in serving their community. They should take a broader view. The government should consult and communicate with Legislative Council members before any announcement or implementation of new policies. Legislative Council members should carry out their own policy research to counter the government's poor consultation. The two should interact and work together to help advance Hong Kong.