George Ng Sze Fuk was relaxed as the first Sai Kung District Council meeting of the new year started. He sat modestly at the back. Tieless, in sports jacket and chequered shirt, he was the most casually dressed councillor present. George exudes authority.
District Officer Maureen Siu, pony-tailed in a fawn jacket and scarf, declared that as nobody had challenged George, he was duly reelected. Again. George moved to the Chairman’s seat that he has occupied for 21 years.
There was change at the next level. Two candidates contested the vice-chairmanship. Christine Fong proposed that each candidate give a brief speech on his plans if elected. This was voted down. When the votes were in Sing Hong-keung of the Hang Hau rural committee had beaten Independent Chau Yin-ming 18-10.
The full council when convened has 29 seats — 24 elected, three appointed and two ex-officio (chairmen of rural committees). Just one councillor is a woman, Christine. The power lies with the DAB members who hold the most seats and their allies among the Independents, who aren’t. Most of them are pro-Beijing. About half of the councillors played with mobile phones during the meeting.
The meeting moved on to manning of the six committees and five working groups. New councillors were told they were expected to join at least three. The budget was to be ready by the next meeting. Then it was all line up for the ceremonial photograph.
The District Council’s $18 million budget is spent on sports clubs, festivals, elderly parties, national day celebration, fighting crime, stalls at the flower show, carnivals, ceremonies for residents’ organisations and the like. Road safety gets nothing, so too environmental protection. Two environmental working groups — one on Tai Long Sai Wan — have been dissolved.