Following is a question by the Hon Emily Lau and a reply by the Secretary for Constitutional and Mainland Affairs, Mr Stephen Lam, in the Legislative Council today (November 3):
According to a press release issued by the Government on September 1 this year, the Chief Secretary for Administration (CS) departed for Beijing on September 2 to discuss matters concerning co-operation between Hong Kong and the Mainland with the Central People's Government. The Government issued another press release on the next day, saying that CS had a working meeting with the Deputy Director of the Hong Kong and Macao Affairs Office (HKMAO) of the State Council to exchange views on issues on furthering the social and economic development of Hong Kong, including the progress of Hong Kong's participation in the preparation of the National 12th Five-Year Plan and Hong Kong-Guangdong co-operation. It was noted that the meeting between CS and the Deputy Director lasted only one hour, and the Government did not announce the itinerary of CS in Beijing for the remaining seven hours. In this connection, will the Executive Authorities inform this Council:
(a) whether CS met the Director of HKMAO on September 2 to discuss matters in relation to the legislation on Article 23 of the Basic Law; if he did, of the reasons for not giving an account of the meeting and the contents of their talks in the press releases;
(b) of the number of times in the past two years that the principal officials under the accountability system, after their visits outside Hong Kong, did not give an account of the details of such visits to the public, together with the names of the officials involved, as well as the dates and places of such visits outside Hong Kong; and
(c) whether the authorities have assessed if the principal officials under the accountability system, after their duty visits to Beijing or other places, have the duty to give an account to the public and the Legislative Council of the persons they have met and the contents of discussions; if the assessment result is in the affirmative, whether the authorities will undertake to adhere to this principle in future by giving an account of the details of such meetings and discussions?
(a) The HKSAR Government issued press statements on September 1 and 2 regarding the arrangements for the visit by the Chief Secretary for Administration (CS) to Beijing on September 2 this year. The statements stated that the CS had a working meeting with Mr Zhou Bo, Deputy Director of Hong Kong and Macao Affairs Office of the State Council, in Beijing to exchange views on issues including the progress of Hong Kong's participation in the preparation of the National 12th Five-Year Plan and Hong Kong-Guangdong co-operation. The HKSAR Government has nothing further to supplement.
(b) The practice of the HKSAR Government is to make public the official visits made by the Secretaries of Department and Directors of Bureau. The official visits made by the Secretaries of Department and Directors of Bureau in the past two years are detailed in the Annex. Apart from the official visits mentioned above, Government officials may have to attend working-level meetings on various issues outside Hong Kong on certain occasions. As far as these working-level meetings are concerned, they may be of routine nature or the discussions may not yet have matured. We would decide whether and how such meetings should be made public depending on the relevant circumstances and needs.
(c) The HKSAR Government agrees that we should make public the official visits made by the Secretaries of Department and Directors of Bureau. We will continue to adhere to this principle in future.
Ends/Wednesday, November 3, 2010