LCQ1: Manifestation of new style of governance in policy implementation

     Following is a question by Hon Andrew Wan and a reply by the Chief Secretary for Administration, Mr Matthew Cheung Kin-chung, in the Legislative Council today (October 18):

The Chief Executive (“CE”) pledged in her election manifesto a new style of governance which embraced such elements as “public discussion” and “attracting talent widely”.  However, some members of the public have pointed out that, as shown in a number of cases, the current-term Government has been implementing policies in a manner contrary to the said style.  For example, CE appointed a person who had attracted substantial controversies within the relevant sector to be an Under Secretary; the membership of the Task Force on Land Supply comprises mainly pro-development persons and lacks conservationists; and the authorities have refused to consider afresh the implementation of any immigration and customs clearance arrangements other than the “co-location arrangement at the West Kowloon Station” for the Guangzhou-Shenzhen-Hong Kong Express Rail Link.  In this connection, will the Government inform this Council:

(1)   of the specific examples of manifestation of “public discussion” in the policy implementation by the current-term Government since its inauguration;

(2)   as there are comments that the current practice of direct appointment of members by CE to a number of advisory committees lacks transparency, and the memberships of some committees do not comprise a wide spectrum of different stakeholders, whether the authorities will study improvement measures; and

(3)   of the specific measures to enhance the communication between policy bureaux and various sectors of the community so as to manifest the new style of governance, particularly in respect of issues relating to the co-location arrangement and housing developments on sites on the periphery of country parks?



     As stated in the Chief Executive’s first Policy Address delivered last Wednesday (October 11), the new-term Government attaches importance to public participation and engagement.  In the course of policy formulation, we will listen to different sectors of society, especially industry stakeholders, frontline personnel as well as young people, and take account of their views with a view to building consensus.  All policy bureaux will also uphold the principle of meritocracy and cast their net wide in scouting for talents.  Anyone with ability and the commitment to serve the community will stand a chance to join various statutory and advisory bodies and tender advice to the Government.  My overall response to the question raised by Hon Andrew Wan is set out below.

     Since the current-term Government assumed office, the Chief Executive, the three Secretaries and the 13 bureaux have been doing our utmost to attain unity in society, reaching out extensively to various sectors of the community and listening to their views.  In formulating the first Policy Address, the Chief Executive, Financial Secretary and I chaired over 40 consultation sessions in the past few months to gauge the suggestions and views of different sectors in the community.

     In order to have a better grasp of district affairs and public views and sentiments, each Principal Official (PO) will visit all 18 districts in the first two years after assumption of office to have in-depth discussion with District Council (DC) Members and enhance their communication with the local community.  These district visits not only allow POs to directly listen to the views of the community, understand districts’ needs and grasp public sentiments, but also demonstrate that the Government attaches great importance to the views and roles of DCs with a view to resolving various district issues jointly with the local communities.  The Chief Executive took the lead and conducted home visits and met members of the community in North District, Kowloon City District and Central and Western District on the second day of her assumption of office.  Meanwhile, various POs have conducted some 50 district visits and discussion sessions with DC Members in the first 100 days in office.

     One of the good examples of engaging the public in formulating specific policies was the proposal for the $5 billion of increased recurrent education expenditure.  In her Election Manifesto, noting some of the resource issues in the education sector, the Chief Executive proposed an immediate increase of recurrent education expenditure by $5 billion a year.  In the three months before she assumed office, the Chief Executive listened directly to the views of the education sector and arrived at a consensus with the stakeholders after discussion, allowing the current-term Government to announce the $3.6 billion first-phase measures in the first week after assumption of office.  Following approval by the Finance Committee of the Legislative Council (LegCo), these measures are being launched progressively in the new school year starting this September.  As to how the remaining $1.4 billion recurrent funding should be put to good use, the Government will examine the relevant issues and continue to discuss with the education sector.

     We will continue to consider how best to gauge public opinions having regard to the nature of individual policy areas.  Besides, the Chief Executive will chair the annual Chief Executive Summits to listen to the views from stakeholders in various policy areas.  The subjects initially proposed for the summits include youth development, quality education, poverty alleviation and innovation and technology.  The Chief Executive will also attend the “Summit on the New Directions for Taxation” to be held on October 23, 2017 to gauge the views of all sectors in formulating forward-looking tax policies and measures.

     On the appointment of committee members, the Government abides by the principle of meritocracy.  When appointing a committee member, the relevant bureau or department takes into account the candidate’s ability, expertise, experience, integrity and commitment to public service, with due regard to the functions and nature of business of the committee as well as relevant statutory requirements.  To gauge a wide range of public views, when appointing committee members, the Government will appoint people of different background and experience.  Apart from those appointed directly by the Government, there are also members who are identified through nomination or election by the relevant professional organisations.

     To further encourage public participation, the Government will make a new attempt by introducing a pilot self-recommendation scheme to recruit young members as a priority target.  We have identified a total of five advisory committees straddling different policy areas in the first batch for recruiting self-recommended young members.  The Home Affairs Bureau is drawing up a mechanism for recruitment and selection to ensure an open, fair and just process.

     Furthermore, with a view to encouraging young people to participate in public policy discussion and debate, we will appoint more young people to various government committees with the aim of increasing the overall ratio of youth members to 15 per cent within the current-term Government.  Also, we will soon start the recruitment of 20 to 30 young people aspiring to pursue a career in policy research as well as policy and project co-ordination, irrespective of political spectrum, to join the proposed Policy Innovation and Co-ordination Unit on a non‑civil service contract basis, so that they can gain experience in public administration and the voices of young people can be heard directly at the senior levels of the Government.

     Following the principles of showing more care, listening more, taking more action and being more innovative, interactive and collaborative, the current-term Government will continue to take concrete action and connect with people from all walks of life with sincerity and humility.  We will also engage the public in the course of policy formulation, displaying the new governance style and accomplishing “people-oriented” governance.  In future, we wish to enhance our interaction and foster an active and effective cooperative relationship with LegCo Members on the basis of mutual respect and seeking common grounds while preserving differences.  Let us join hands to build a better Hong Kong for all.

     Thank you.

Ends/Wednesday, October 18, 2017
Issued at HKT 12:43