In response to the comments by Legislative Councillor, Mr Albert Chan, in RTHK's "Letter to Hong Kong" broadcast earlier today (June 15), a Government spokesman issued the following statement:
"The Government's objectives in expanding the Political Appointment System are threefold. Firstly, creating two additional layers of politically appointed officials can better equip the political team of the HKSAR Government, strengthen the support to the Principal Officials in handling political work, and enhance the governing capacity of the Government to deliver the election manifesto of the Chief Executive (CE).
"Secondly, it will enable the Government to widen the room for political participation. We look forward to having different channels to groom and nurture political talents including those with political party, academic, professional, business, media or former civil service backgrounds. From now on, apart from taking part in Legislative Council (LegCo) and District Council elections, those aspiring for a political career can also join the executive government.
"Thirdly, we hope that, upon expanding the Political Appointment System, the responsibilities between political appointees and civil servants can be better delineated. By leaving the political work mainly to the political appointees, civil servants can focus more on policy analysis and implementation. This will be conducive to maintaining a permanent, professional, and politically neutral civil service.
"Also, further development of the Political Appointment System will pave the way for implementation of universal suffrage for returning the CE, so that the candidate who wins the election (especially the CE returned by universal suffrage in the future) can have sufficient room to nominate and appoint his team of Principal Officials and their deputies.
"According to the Decision made by the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress in December last year, the election of the CE in 2017 may be by universal suffrage. We need to broaden the avenues for those who wish to serve Hong Kong by pursuing a career in politics, and create more room for political talents, so as to complement the implementation of universal suffrage for returning CE within the next decade.
As for the appointment procedures for Under Secretaries and Political Assistants, the Report on Further Development of the Political Appointment System issued by the Government in October 2007 and the associated papers put to the LegCo have made it clear that the Appointment Committee (AC) chaired by the CE will take charge of making appointments of Under Secretaries and Political Assistants.
"The Government has provided a paper to the LegCo Panel on Constitutional Affairs, setting out the appointment procedures in further detail, such as the composition of the interviewing panels. The panel for Under Secretaries is chaired by the Chief Secretary for Administration, typically with a number of Directors of Bureaux and the Director of the CE's Office as members, whereas the one for Political Assistants is chaired by the Director of the CE's Office or the Secretary for Constitutional and Mainland Affairs with one to two other Directors of Bureaux as members.
"All key decisions on the appointments were made by the AC on a collective basis. The most important criterion is meritocracy. Moreover, the relevant Principal Officials would be consulted, and their agreement would be secured over the proposed match, before the AC made a final decision on the exact posting for each Under Secretary or Political Assistant."
Ends/Sunday, June 15, 2008