2010-11 Policy Address by Chief Executive (15)

F. Democratic Development

Constitutional Development

152. Hong Kong has taken a critical step forward in its constitutional development.  Last June, this Council passed the draft amendments to the methods for selecting the Chief Executive and for forming the Legislative Council in 2012.  I subsequently signed instruments of consent to the draft amendments. The amendments were then approved and recorded respectively by the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress in August.  This signifies the completion of the five-step legislative process for amending the methods for selecting the Chief Executive and for forming the Legislative Council.  The community's aspiration to roll forward constitutional development has been realised.

153. The task before us is to enact local legislation on the two electoral methods.  We plan to put forward proposals later this month and consult this Council.  We hope that the bills will be passed in a few months to allow political parties and prospective candidates to make early preparations.  We hope that the community will adopt a rational, pragmatic and accommodating attitude, and take this hard-earned opportunity to promote the constitutional development of Hong Kong, paving the way for universal suffrage for the Chief Executive in 2017 and for the Legislative Council in 2020.

154. It is evident that public opinion plays an important role in a political system with universal suffrage.  The Government has to engage the public when advocating its policies.  The Government should gauge, collate and take into account people's views.  We will make greater use of the new media that have become popular in recent years to enhance our interaction with the public and engage the community in rational discussions of public affairs.  

Political Talent

155. For democracy to bring about good governance and benefit our people, political talent is of the utmost importance.  The political appointment system introduced in 2002 was expanded in 2007 with the new positions of Under Secretary and Political Assistant.  Despite some early criticisms, it has been effective in enhancing the political capacity of the Government, and has helped nurture political talent.  We believe in creating a diverse pool of political talent consisting of political party members, academics, business people, professionals and elite civil servants.  To attract more people from different sectors to take up political appointment, we need to consider more flexible arrangements such as a "revolving door".

The Civil Service

156. An effective government relies not only on political talent, but also on a professional and highly efficient civil service.  Civic awareness among the public has been increasing, leading to rising demands and expectations on the Government.  Our civil servants have carried on their fine tradition and remained as dedicated as ever to their duties.  They have spared no effort to deliver quality services to the people of Hong Kong and pursue excellence.  Their commitment to serving our people and their spirit of putting people first are for all to see.

157. The professionalism of our civil servants was most evident in the Ma Tau Wai Road building collapse incident early this year and the Manila hostage incident in August.  On both occasions, the civil service responded promptly with strong teamwork, urgently mobilising manpower to assist the victims and their families, and handled these rare emergencies professionally. The officers' hard work and devotion to duty won the trust and recognition of the public.  I firmly believe that our civil servants will keep up their efforts in the face of challenges.

National Education

158. It is our established policy to promote national education.  We will collaborate further with the Committee on the Promotion of Civic Education, District Councils, community organisations, national education organisations and youth organisations. We will organise more Mainland exchange programmes, study tours and volunteer activities so that Hong Kong people, especially the younger generation, may gain a deep understanding of our country, develop a stronger sense of national identity, and recognise the common origin and close bonds between Mainland and Hong Kong people.  For example, with Shanghai hosting World Expo 2010, we have organised and sponsored study tours and a volunteer team for our young people to attend this mega event.  We will also provide volunteer services for the Asian Games in Guangzhou this year and the Universiade in Shenzhen next year to encourage Hong Kong people's participation in international events and strengthen their ties with our country.

159. We will increase opportunities for students to participate in Mainland learning and exchange activities.  Our target is to subsidise every primary and secondary school student to join at least one Mainland exchange programme.  We will organise more exchange activities together with voluntary groups through the "Passing on the Torch" programme, providing some 4 000 additional places a year.  We expect to achieve this by the 2015-16 school year.  To better equip our teachers, we will provide additional resources for student teachers to participate in relevant professional study courses in the Mainland.

160. Based on the current curriculum, the Education Bureau (EDB) will improve students' understanding of the Basic Law, step up the teaching support relating to the Basic Law and "One Country, Two Systems" in the primary and secondary school curricula and compile a learning package in this school year.  We also propose to increase study hours on the Basic Law and related topics.  Furthermore, the EDB will develop a database of questions on the Basic Law for students to attempt online and for schools to use in examinations.

161. The EDB will invite the Curriculum Development Council to review the curriculum framework for moral and civic education at primary and secondary levels, and to develop an independent subject on "moral and national education".  This initiative is expected to be implemented in the 2013-14 school year to further enhance the elements of national education.  

162. In addition, the Civil Service Bureau will enhance training and organise more exchange activities for civil servants to deepen their understanding of national development and affairs.

Legislating under Article 23 of the Basic Law (BL23)

163. I am aware of the diverse opinions about the enactment of legislation to implement BL23.  The majority view is that the current-term Government should, in the remaining one year or so of its term, focus its efforts on promoting economic development, improving peopleˇ¦s livelihood and maintaining the prosperity, stability and development of our society, and that legislative work for implementing BL23 could be deferred.  After repeated deliberations, we have decided not to legislate under BL23 during the current term.  That said, I must reiterate that it is both a constitutional duty of the Hong Kong SAR Government and the collective responsibility of the whole community to enact legislation under BL23.  I believe that different sectors of the community will eventually arrive at a consensus and complete this task in due course.

(To be continued)

Ends/Wednesday, October 13, 2010
Issued at HKT 12:44