Statement issued by Executive Council Secretariat

The following is issued on behalf of the Executive Council Secretariat:

     In response to public concern about the confidentiality of Executive Council (ExCo) proceedings, ExCo members unanimously agreed to issue the following statement after a thorough discussion at its meeting today (March 20):

1. The confidentiality of ExCo proceedings is an essential principle underscoring the policy-making and effective operation of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (SAR) Government. It must be sternly upheld and respected, and should not be violated. ExCo members have a duty to comply with this principle, which also provides the basis on which the integrity of the ExCo system depends. Protecting the integrity of the system is a matter of great public interest.  

2. ExCo is authorised under Article 54 of the Basic Law as an organ for assisting the Chief Executive in policy-making. The importance of confidentiality lies in ensuring that ExCo members can, without any pressure, speak freely and honestly in giving advice to the Chief Executive. It also enables the Chief Executive to listen to different views fully when assessing the pros and cons of policies.  Confidentiality is also vital in upholding the principle of collective responsibility.

3. According to Section 18 of the Oaths and Declarations Ordinance (Cap 11), a member of ExCo shall take the Oath of Fidelity after his or her appointment, pledging that, "I will not, except with the authority of the Chief Executive, reveal the agenda or proceedings of the Executive Council, or any document communicated to me or any matter coming to my knowledge in my capacity as a Member of the Executive Council; that I will not seek to make or assist others to make any personal gain through the exercise of my official duties and I will be bound by and be collectively accountable for the decisions of the Executive Council."

4. In the case of an ExCo member violating the principle of confidentiality, the Chief Executive may, depending on the circumstances, take appropriate action including issuing an advice, a warning, removing him or her from office, or taking legal action.

5. The SAR Government takes seriously any action suspected of being in breach of ExCo's confidentiality. As for individual cases, pursuant to the long-established principle of confidentiality and practice adopted by ExCo, the Government will not comment on any matter relating to the agenda of and discussion at ExCo meetings.

Ends/Tuesday, March 20, 2012
Issued at HKT 15:11