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Transcript of SCA's briefing on independent commission's report

The following is the transcript of a standup briefing by the Secretary for Constitutional Affairs, Mr Stephen Lam, on the report of the Independent Commission on Remuneration Package and Post-office Arrangements for the Chief Executive of the HKSAR at Central Government Offices today (June 9) (English portion):

SCA: We welcome the report submitted by the Independent Commission today and wish to thank the members for their hard work in helping us to examine these very important questions over the last two months.

We will consider the report within the Administration and put a submission to the Executive Council as soon as possible to arrive at a decision. But I can give you a preliminary response today.

On the whole, the recommendations of the Independent Commission are practical and comprehensive.

Firstly, the Independent Commission has recommended that no adjustment shall be made to the remuneration package for the Chief Executive before July 2007. We believe that this reflects the opinions which the Commission has gathered from among Legislative Councillors and members of the public.

The Independent Commission has also recommended that with effect from July 2007, for the third term Chief Executive, the relevant remuneration package should be fully encashed and thereby this would not lead to any extra burden for the taxpayers. We believe that this is an important consideration.

Secondly, the Independent Commission has recommended that a three-year control period should apply in future after a Chief Executive has left office in terms of a retiring Chief Executive taking up employment outside the government. The intention is to prevent any conflict of interest. We subscribe to this principle. In terms of details of implementation, we will need to make a submission to the Executive Council before we make a final decision.

Thirdly, the Independent Commission has recommended establishing an office to support former Chief Executives after they have left office so that they can continue to play an " ambassadorial role" in helping to promote Hong Kong, both overseas and say, in the Mainland. The office will not be established to serve any particular former Chief Executive who has retired but will be available for serving all former Chief Executives in future. This overall direction is appropriate.

As I mentioned just now, we will make a submission to the Executive Council as soon as possible. Thereafter, we will also report to the Legislative Council Constitutional Affairs Panel on the Government's position and decision.
Reporter: How much will it cost to supply former Chief Executives with an office and her/his driver or .....?

SCA:We believe that the establishment will be quite modest. It is meant to provide secretarial and administrative support so it will only have a very limited number of a few staff. We will need to do an assessment before we can report further to the Legislative Council and to the media and to the public. But we do not believe that this will be a very expensive office to run.

Reporter: Will it be in CGO or elsewhere?

SCA: This is a matter which we need to deal with in terms of implementation, but the recommendation of the Independent Commission is that it should be housed in government premises. So we will take that forward.

Reporter: So do you anticipate that when ........there will be five offices in a row?

SCA: I do not. I believe that we will continue to have new Chief Executives assuming office and former Chief Executives retiring. But in the course of time, a former Chief Executive who is more advanced in age will become less active and a newly retired former Chief Executive will be relatively more active. So the natural process will have a balancing-out effect and we intend to run this as a very practical scheme and make good use of the contacts which any former Chief Executives have established overseas and say, in the Mainland. This will be helpful in maintaining Hong Kong's international position and in developing our relationship with the Mainland.

Reporter: .... Mr Tung Chee Hwa?

SCA: The Independent Commission has recommended in their report that Mr C H Tung should be consulted as to whether he will also subscribe to the restriction period of three years with regard to seeking outside employment. But of course, when the former Chief Executive Mr Tung retired, he made it clear that, henceforth, he will only serve the country and Hong Kong and that he will not intend to seek outside employment. We believe this voluntary undertaking on the part of Mr Tung has made known his personal position and that this has secured public support and confidence. But now that the Independent Commission has submitted their report, we will pass this for Mr Tung's consideration and we will discuss this particular aspect with Mr Tung.

Reporter: In relation to the government office, will it be provided to him?

SCA: First, we need to put this report and the recommendations to the Executive Council before we take a final decision on the recommendations.

Reporter: When will that be made to the Executive Council?

SCA: As soon as we can.

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

Ends/Thursday, June 9, 2005