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Transcript of SCA's standup briefing

Following is the transcript of the remarks made by the Secretary for Constitutional Affairs, Mr Stephen Lam, at a standup briefing to the media after attending RTHK's "City Forum" today (July 30) (English portion):

Reporter: Will the Deputy Directors need to be appointed by the Central People's Government?

SCA: There is a provision in the Basic Law which stipulates that Policy Secretaries of the Government should be nominated by the Chief Executive and appointed by the Central People's Government and of course we will continue to comply with this provision in nominating and appointing Hong Kong's Principal Officials.

However, the Deputy Directors of Bureau, the Under Secretaries, if these positions are to be created, they will not be equivalent to Principal Officials, and therefore, it will be sufficient for the Policy Secretaries concerned to nominate the Under Secretaries for the Chief Executive to appoint.

Reporter: (in gist) How about the division of duties between the new political appointees and the civil servants?

SCA: We have made a very comprehensive attempt to set out the division of responsibilities between civil servants and the political appointees. There is a whole chapter devoted to this particular sphere in our consultation document. But, of course, we will continue to emphasise very vigilantly that political issues should largely be for political appointees to deal with.

Therefore, I believe that in future the Policy Secretaries and the Under Secretaries will deal with all of the business in the main meetings of the Legislative Council. They will continue to handle pointed and important political issues of the day.

Civil servants will continue to undertake policy research and support the political teams in their respective policy bureaux. Where necessary, Permanent Secretaries and Deputy Secretaries will continue to appear before the Legislative Council to help explain Government policies, programmes and work of the Government. The two sets of duties of the political appointees and the civil servants will be complementary.

Reporter: Will detailed guidelines be set for new political appointees to follow?

SCA: We have already put together a code of conduct for Principal Officials under the Accountability System. This code has been implemented in the last four years. We expect the new layers of political appointees, the Under Secretaries and Assistants to Directors of Bureau will need to comply with this code. Of course we need to make suitable revisions to the code to ensure that it will apply in future to all three tiers of political appointees.

(Please also refer to the Chinese portion of the transcript.)

Ends/Sunday, July 30, 2006