Government doubts over District Council oaths today could further slash three of the city’s beleaguered Traffic & Transport Committees (TTCs), institutions that have already seen a citywide 60% drop in membership with the resignations and sackings of hundreds of district councillors this year.
The government today questioned the validity of oaths of 16 members from Tai Po, Sai Kung and Sha Tin, asking them to “provide additional information for the oath administrator to decide the validity of their oaths”.
For two previous oath-taking sessions, covering Hong Kong Island and Kowloon, such a request for information presaged the ultimate rejection of the oaths and the immediate firing of the councillors.
If all 16 questioned oaths given today are rejected, Tai Po and Sai Kung’s TTCs will shrink to seven members each, while Sha Tin’s will shrink to nine. That would be a total of 23 councillors serving the committees for the previous work of 88 councillors.
A similar situation has been seen on Hong Kong Island, with now just 17 councillors serving TTCs, against a full complement of 69 before the purge of arrests, resignations and oath-taking sackings. Kwun Tong has been the hardest hit, with none of its former 38 members still in place.
While Carrie Lam said the District Council is purely an “advisory body”, many government departments rely on District Council approval for projects – for example, a district’s TTC must give written approval for roadworks, according to established Transport Department procedure. TTCs also raise transport issues to government officials and hold officials accountable for actions or lack of action.
But Home Affairs Department says the slimmed down committees are not a problem. “In general, according to section 72 of the District Council Ordinance, the proceedings of a District Council or a committee are not affected by a vacancy in the membership of the District Council or defect in membership,” it said in response to questions on the matter.