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LCQ4: Compliance with Code for Principal Officials under Accountability System

Following is a question by the Hon Cheung Man-kwong and a reply by the Secretary for Constitutional Affairs, Mr Stephen Lam, in the Legislative Council today (October 23):


According to the Report of the Panel of Enquiry on Penny Stocks Incident, the Financial Services and the Treasury Bureau had received an Executive Summary and a Summary Table submitted respectively by the Hong Kong Exchanges and Clearing Limited ("HKEx") and the Hong Kong Securities and Futures Commission ("SFC"), before the release of the Consultation Paper on Proposed Amendments to the Listing Rules Relating to Initial Listing and Continuing Listing Criteria and Cancellation of Listing Procedures (the Consultation Paper) on July 25 this year. However, the Secretary for Financial Services and the Treasury (the Secretary) supplied wrong information to the Financial Secretary ("FS"), resulting in FS advising the media on July 29 this year that the HKEx had not consulted the Government on the Consultation Paper before its release. When reading from his speaking note at the Special Meeting of the Legislative Council Panel on Financial Services held on July 31 this year, the Secretary also indicated that neither the HKEx nor the SFC had consulted him on the contents of the Consultation Paper and that he had not received the Consultation Paper before its release. In this connection, will the Government inform this Council:

(a) whether it has looked into the above acts of the Secretary to see if they comply with the Code for Principal Officials under the Accountability System ("the Code"), particularly sections 1.2 and 2.11 thereof; and

(b) whether the Chief Executive has considered imposing penalties on Principal Officials for breaching the Code and stipulating the proper behaviour required of the Principal Officials in discharging duties in future; if so, of the details; if not, the reasons for that?


Madam President,

As regards the three documents referred to by the Hon Cheung Man-kwong, the Secretary for Financial Services and the Treasury, Mr Frederick Ma Si-hang, had provided detailed explanations at the meeting of the Legislative Council Panel on Financial Affairs on September 16.

In respect of the first part of the question raised by Mr Cheung, I wish to make two points.

Firstly, during the retreat held on July 27 and 28, the Financial Secretary and Mr Ma concentrated on measures for dealing with the aftermath of the event and the approach for stabilising the market. The issue of whether or not the relevant document had been received was not the focus of their discussions. Furthermore, prior to July 31, Mr Ma was not aware that the bureau had received the Executive Summary of the HKEx consultation document. Thus, throughout the process Mr Ma had acted in good faith to deal with the issue according to his understanding of the situation.

Secondly, at the meeting of the Financial Affairs Panel on July 31, Mr Ma's priority first and foremost was to explain to Members in detail the measures which the Government, HKEx and SFC had taken to stabilise the market after the plunge of the penny stocks. When asked by Members about the documents, Mr Ma gave an immediate account and confirmed that he had received the summary documents.

In the light of the background set out above, the Chief Executive considers that Mr Ma has not breached the Code for Principal Officials under the Accountability System.

As for the second part of Mr Cheung's question, our response is that if a Principal Official were to breach the Code, the Chief Executive would take appropriate action having regard to the actual situation.

End/Wednesday, October 23, 2002.