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LCQ2: Current term of Executive Council

     Following is a question by the Hon James Tien and a reply by the Chief Secretary for Administration, Mrs Carrie Lam, in the Legislative Council today (June 5):


     Quite a number of members of the public have relayed to me that in terms of functions, roles and status, the present Executive Council (ExCo) is nothing like the then ExCo before the introduction of the "Accountability System for Principal Officials" in 2002 and the ExCo during the governance of the British Hong Kong Government. There are also members of the public raising queries about the current operation of the ExCo, e.g. a regular meeting has been cancelled recently because of no agenda item, a Non-official Member has been granted leave of absence for over half a year, and another Non-official Member has resigned on the ground that he is "under police investigation". In this connection, will the Government inform this Council:

(a) whether it has assessed if the aforesaid situations of the ExCo have arisen because selection of ExCo Members is not prudent enough or the support for the ExCo is not comprehensive; if it has assessed, of the details; if not, the reasons for that;

(b) whether it has assessed if the existing functions, roles and status of the ExCo have deviated from the requirements under the Basic Law (in particular Articles 54 to 56), and how such aspects compare with those of the then ExCo before the introduction of the Accountability System for Principal Officials and the ExCo during the governance of the British Hong Kong Government; and

(c) whether currently there are arrangements for policies to be first discussed at an informal meeting comprising several ExCo Members before their submission to the ExCo for discussion and decision; if there are such arrangements, of the membership of that informal meeting; and the average number of hours of ExCo meeting per week since the inauguration of the incumbent Government?



     My reply to the three parts of the question is as follows:

(a) Under the Basic Law, Members of the Executive Council (ExCo) of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR) shall be appointed by the Chief Executive from among the principal officials of the executive authorities, members of the Legislative Council and public figures. They shall be Chinese citizens who are permanent residents of the HKSAR with no right of abode in any foreign country. When making appointments to the ExCo, the Chief Executive strictly adhered to the requirements of the Basic Law. The appointments were made on the basis of the merit of individuals concerned, taking into account a candidate's ability, expertise, integrity, and participation in and commitment to public service. Since the establishment of the current term of the Government, the ExCo has been properly performing its function to assist the Chief Executive in policy-making and the performance of its function will not be affected by individual cases. The ExCo Secretariat has also been providing effective support to the ExCo and all of its Members.

(b) The role, composition and functions of the ExCo are clearly stipulated in the Basic Law. Since the political structure of Hong Kong has been evolving before and after the establishment of the HKSAR and the implementation of the political accountability system, it would not be appropriate to compare the ExCo of different times. As remarked by the Chief Executive earlier on, he had been a Member and the Convener of the ExCo for 15 years before he assumed the post of the Chief Executive. Generally speaking, the participation of Non-official Members of the current term of the ExCo in the formulation and discussion of government policies has taken place earlier and in a more in-depth and more specific manner. For the current term of ExCo, there have been more meetings and length of meetings has been generally longer than before. Every Member is dedicated to contributing their knowledge and experience when tendering advice to the Chief Executive.

(c) Before submitting policies to the ExCo for discussion and decision, at the Non-official Members' request, government bureaux will hold briefings for the Non-official Members on different policy areas or individual issues so as to introduce the background of the policies, provide relevant information and listen to their views. All Non-official Members may attend these briefings. As I said just now, the length of meetings of the ExCo of the current term has been generally longer than before, and would last till lunch time or even afternoon from time to time. From July 2012 to May 21 2013, the ExCo held 40 meetings. Different from the past, the recess period of the current term of the ExCo has been shortened and the frequency of meetings increased. While the duration of each meeting varies, the meeting time is generally longer than that in the past.

     Thank you, President.

Ends/Wednesday, June 5, 2013
Issued at HKT 13:45


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